Calgary police charge man after woman spat on and called racial slurs

Calgary Police Service charged a man Tuesday in connection to an assault where a woman was spat on and called racial slurs earlier this year.

The incident dates back to  Feb. 11 when Tianna Hay was about to enter a Dollarama in the Temple neighbourhood in northeast Calgary at the same time a man was exiting the store.

After Hay, who is a Black woman, stepped aside to allow the man to pass, he spat on her and called her the N-word.

WATCH ABOVE | Tianna Hay talks about how the incident impacted her life in ways she ‘did not know were possible.’

In Hay’s victim impact statement, she says he called her a racist name twice.

Police say the man did this without any provocation, then left the area on foot.

According to a news release Tuesday, Hay joined investigators to seek out the man last month however she recently spotted him while in the downtown area.

Davit Aleksanyan, 27, of Calgary, has been charged with one count of common assault.

Police said that if the judge decides that hate was a motivation for the offence, it could add to the sentence.

“Any evidence of a hate motivation is considered by the courts after a person is found guilty of the connected crime,” the release said.

Impact on Hay

Hay said in a statement that she has endured racism before, but the assault “impacted my life in ways that I did not know were possible.”

“Being a Black woman in Canada has its struggles. I’ve been stereotyped on multiple occasions, more than I can count,” she said. 

“Whether it be being racially profiled as a retail employee follows me around the store assuming I’m going to shoplift, along with discrimination and systemic biases that are still prevalent in today’s society. But never until February 11, 2021, on my own mother’s birthday, did I have another human being completely disregard my right to decency and respect.”

Since that assault, Hay said, she has become paranoid and remains traumatized. 

“The blare of his voice lingers in my head, and the image of his face cannot seem to evade my memory,” said Hay. 

The N-word, she said, “carries centuries of anguish and hostility.”

Police said in a release these types of offences not only harm the victim but can have lasting emotional impacts on those involved and on the community.

“Hate-motivated crimes are recognizable crimes, like assault, theft, vandalism or any other crime, where the offender was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate that is based on one of nine personal characteristics of the victim,” the release said.

Aleksanyan is scheduled to appear in court on July 8.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism, to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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