Mayor of Russell, Ont. condemns racist attack against 10-year-old boy
(Ian Urbach/CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- The mayor of Russell, Ont. is condemning a racist attack against a 10-year-old Black child.
Last week, an Instagram user posted an account of the attack, which claims two white children called the victim a racial slur several times and then assaulted the boy, leaving him with a broken arm.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police, officers were first called to the scene in the town just east of Ottawa at around 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22, on reports of an assault, arriving about an hour later to speak to witnesses and begin the investigation.
"We are aware that the incident started over a racial slur, but cannot speculate on the thought processes or the reasons it happened," said OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson in a statement to CTV News. "One young person was then assaulted, suffering a non-life-threatening injury and was treated in hospital."
Dickson said everyone involved is under the age of 12 and cannot be criminally charged.
"For that reason, the OPP is working with the parents of the young people involved and has engaged community support services, including the Intersections program and Valoris. Both families agreed with this approach," he said.
"The hope is that, working with children and parents, these agencies can ensure a greater level of understanding and respect, preventing any similar incidents in the future. The Russell County Detachment is still working with the families."
Dickson did not respond to questions regarding allegations of a dismissive police response, outlined in the social media post that described the attack, saying only that an officer contacted the family of the victim at the hospital at 8:30 p.m. that evening to follow up.
In an open letter posted to Facebook, Russell Mayor Pierre Leroux said he was "saddened to write this statement."
"This past week, a young Black 10-year-old boy in the village of Russell was assaulted by others of his age, simply because of the colour of his skin," Leroux wrote. "This young boy received awful anti-Black sentiments and had his arm broken in two places. This is unacceptable."
Leroux said that while some may say a single incident does not define a community, he encouraged residents to take the issue of racism seriously.
"Some will say this was one incident and does not reflect who we are as a community," he said. "Although we may not experience these ourselves, such acts do happen to our family, friends, and neighbours.
"Our community needs to talk about this act of violence. As a community, we must be better."
Racism was at the forefront of Russell over the summer, when a petition circulated calling on the town to change its name because it was named after Peter Russell, a man who owned slaves and was an advocate for slavery.
The town council decided to keep the name Russell but to rededicate the town after someone else.