Feb 16, 2017
Tamara Crowchief, an Indian citizen of Canada, exclaimed “I hate white people!” as she attacked a woman named Lydia White outside a pub in Calgary last November. The victim lost a tooth in what was described as an unprovoked attack.
According to witness accounts, White was standing outside the pub talking to another person when Crowchief, apropos of nothing, walked up to her, yelled “I hate white people!” and punched her in the face.
“I still get angry when I think about it,” White said in a recent court hearing. “I don’t understand why this woman did this. I never did anything to her. Never even spoke with her.”
When police located Crowchief, she complained that “the white man was out to get her,” but didn’t explain what that had to do with an unprovoked attack on a white, female stranger.
Given that Crowchief herself described the crime as motivated by racial prejudice, the assault seems like one perfectly suited for penalty enhancement under Canada’s hate crimes statute. Provincial Court Judge Harry Van Harten, however, ruled that the unambiguous expression of intent on the part of the assailant doesn’t count as evidence.
“The offender said `I hate white people’ and threw a punch,” the judge explained during the sentencing hearing. “There is no evidence either way about what the offender meant…. I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this offense was, even in part, motivated by racial bias.”
The judge, insisting that the six months served by Crowchief in pre-trial detention was a sufficient term of incarceration, gave her twelve months’ probation and ordered her to undergo psychological counseling.