Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Video shows neighbours making anti-Asian remarks toward Ottawa family | CBC News

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A viral video showing two people throwing eggs at a suburban Ottawa home while making racist remarks is sparking outrage across the city and beyond, with neighbours pinning the blame on the household next door that they say is the source of ongoing disturbances.

The front door security footage, which surfaced online last week, captures a man and a woman mocking Asian languages with imitative gibberish while standing on a driveway of a home in early June. The man declares he “f–king hates Asians” because “they’re so ugly and can’t talk English.”

The woman living in the home that was targeted told CBC News her family, who has South Korean roots, has endured “unimaginable pain” over the past two years as a result of continuous noise and harassment.

“The situation has severely affected our new home, disrupted our daily lives, and deprived us of sleep, health and happiness,” she wrote in a statement, adding she won’t be commenting further as the matter is now under police investigation.

CBC has agreed not to identify the woman nor publish her address due to concerns over her family’s safety. 

Aftermath of the egg-throwing incident can be seen in this photo taken by Amna Saeed, a friend and neighbour of the family. (Submitted by Amna Saeed)

A man who identified himself as the ex-husband of the woman captured in the video told CBC his family members are in fact the real victims in an ongoing neighbourhood spat. As “one of the only white families” in the area, he said they were the ones being bullied.

The man had originally agreed to answer CBC’s questions about the saga and share evidence supporting that different narrative, but he cancelled the meeting at the last minute.

“I’m retaining a lawyer and going through proper channels to defend myself and my family,” he wrote in a text.

The landlord who owns the home where the alleged perpetrators live declined to speak with CBC about his tenants, who’ve been the subject of dozens of noise bylaw complaints since 2023.

Multiple residents in the newly developed area told CBC the tenants often play loud music late into the evening, have thrown trash at their neighbour’s windows and hurled other anti-Asian insults at the family.

Ottawa police and the city’s bylaw department are both investigating, with bylaw expected to issue infraction notices against the tenants.

None of these allegations has been proven in court.

A woman in a beige cap speaks and points.
Amna Saeed, who lives nearby and is a friend of the complainant, says she’s personally witnessed other instances of hateful comments from the tenants next door. (CBC)

‘Stressful’ situation for everyone

On June 12, Ottawa police announced its hate and bias unit is investigating the egg-throwing incident that was caught on video and posted to social media. This isn’t the first time authorities have been called to the property.

Amna Saeed, who lives in the neighbourhood and is a friend of the main complainant, said she has personally witnessed other instances of hate coming from the other household.

“They open the windows and start screaming, ‘Asians go back to your home, go back to your country!'” Saeed said. 

“Her kids have experienced this since they were two and four, so it is very scary to even think someone can harm you.” 

Saeed said the situation has become “stressful” for everyone in the neighbourhood. 

Another neighbour who lives a few doors down from the two homes described the conflict as an ongoing “cycle.”

“The kids can’t sleep at night because [their neighbours are] blasting music at very high volumes,” said Nish Yogasingam, adding he has on multiple occasions heard loud music booming from the home. 

In her brief statement to CBC, the woman who lives in the targeted home said despite several attempts to seek assistance from authorities, her family has “not received the support necessary to restore peace.” 

“My children have been deprived of adequate sleep and a peaceful environment, causing significant distress,” wrote the mother, who’s currently on a trip to South Korea. 

An orange fence and a no trespassing sign.
The family whose home has been targeted erected this fence and sign between their property and the rented home next door. (CBC)

Since January 2023, Ottawa’s bylaw department has received more than 90 complaints about loud music originating from the neighbouring home. Bylaw chief Roger Chapman said some of the complaints were duplicate calls or came on the same day.

To date, bylaw officers have issued three $490 fines and court summonses for serious noise infractions to both the tenants and the property owner. If convicted, the penalty could potentially rise to $100,000 per offence, Chapman said. 

He added bylaw “has faced challenges in its investigations at this property, as in several cases, officers have been unable to substantiate the complaint and witness statements have not been provided.”

Yogasingam said he believes bylaw officers responding to the complaints often “can’t really do anything” because the tenants wouldn’t open the door. 

‘No place for hate in our community’

It’s unclear how the latest security footage made its way to social media. According to neighbours, the family whose home was targeted had shared it with a few people and community groups in the area.  

An Instagram account with a substantial following eventually posted the video last week, drawing thousands of views and sparking lots of chatter.

Barrhaven West Coun. David Hill told CBC in an email that he has “followed up with the proper authorities to ensure they are aware and taking action regarding this incident.” 

Hill also expressed his sympathy for the family affected.

“I feel terrible for the family, especially the children, that have been subjected to this hateful behaviour,” he wrote. “There is no place for hate in our community.”

Barrhaven East Coun. Wilson Lo called the situation “distressing.”

A man in a black shirt and blue cap stands in front of a house speaking.
Neighbour Nish Yogasingam describes the ongoing conflict between the two households as a ‘cycle.’ (CBC)

The story has travelled beyond the city, with several parliamentarians weighing in on the larger issue of anti-Asian racism.

“As a parliamentarian of Korean descent … I’m quite concerned that this is happening in 2024 in Ottawa,” said Sen. Yonah Martin of British Columbia. 

“The fact that this family may have suffered two years of harassment in this way and it is only now coming to light makes it very important for us to be aware as a society, as a nation that these incidents cannot be tolerated.”

Former B.C. MP Nelly Shin also commented on the incident, noting individuals from Ottawa’s Korean-Canadian community reached out to her because of her own Korean heritage.

“The Asian community in Ottawa and across Canada are watching to see how authorities will handle the Barrhaven incident to restore trust if any is broken,” Shin said. “Actions speak louder than words.”

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