(July 21, 2022 / JNS) The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Canada voiced its opposition to a decision by a Toronto court to free a man who pled guilty to three counts of hate-motivated assault.
Michael Park, 33, who was arrested several times in 2021 for attacking members of the Jewish community, was sentenced to 36 months of probation and time served.
“It’s incredibly shocking and disheartening that our justice system would release such a violent individual, who has demonstrated no evidence of remorse and has a clear hatred toward Jews, back into society without any clear plan to protect the Jewish community at large,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of policy at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. “All the assaults Park committed occurred in public places, and there is a high risk he will re-offend.”
She commended the prosecutor, as well as the Toronto Police Service and its Hate Crime Unit, though said that the final decision by the court “is very unsettling. As Toronto’s Jewish community remains the most targeted group when it comes to hate crimes, it’s extremely important for our legal system to enact measures that will protect Jews and all minority groups from violent attacks.”
Last July, Park, who has a swastika tattoo on his chest, was arrested after assaulting a Jewish man. He was also charged at the time with assault with a weapon after throwing an object at another individual. He further walked through the city’s Stanley Park shouting “Heil Hitler” and performing a Nazi salute. In September 2021, he was arrested after assaulting a woman he believed was Jewish in a Toronto subway station.
As part of his release, Park is not allowed to be within 10 meters of Jewish institutions, including synagogues, schools and community centers. Friends of Simon Wiesenthal are urging that the community remain vigilant and report any sighting of him near the above-mentioned areas.
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