By Jeremy Appel
The Redcliff RCMP says they’re unable to file any charges after a well-publicized incident that occurred Jan. 5 at the local Husky Gas Station.
A regular customer came into the station to ask if he could fill up his tank and pay later, says Jasveen Brar, the daughter of the family that owns the store.
“We’d come to an agreement that he would be coming in later that day to come and pay for it,” she told the Courier. “He didn’t.”
Brar called him on Monday to see when he’d be coming back to pay, but somebody else answered his phone, hanging up immediately.
“I decided to call back a second time, because I thought that maybe there was something wrong with the phone,” she said.
This time, a female voice answered, hurling racial slurs at Brar before hanging up.
“You f—ing Muslim whore. Go back to Pakistan. You dirty immigrant,” said the voice on the phone. “Don’t ever f—ing call here again.”
Brar was born in Vancouver, but her parents came from India, not Pakistan, and they’re Sikh, not Muslim.
Realizing that they weren’t getting their oil back without a struggle, the family posted their story to the Everything Redcliff Facebook page, where they received immense community support.
“What we really just wanted to express is that it doesn’t matter if we are re Canadian or if we’re not. It doesn’t matter if we’re Muslim or if we’re not,” explained Brar. “You can’t treat people like that.”
The RCMP got involved after seeing the post, reaching out to Brar to get a statement from her on Jan. 9.
“That’s when I had a good chat with one of the RCMP officers there about racism and everything in general that’s been happening in town.
“We also positively discussed how the whole town was rallying behind us, showing that things like this wouldn’t be tolerated,” she said.
S-Sgt. Sean Maxwell says that after investigation, the RCMP concluded that there was no grounds to press charges.
“The individual came in, was unable to pay for some motor oil and the owner was gracious enough to say ‘You can pay for it later,” Maxwell said. “It might appear to be a theft, but it isn’t, because the store owner said, ‘You can pay this later.'”
The Brar family could sue the customer for damages in civil court, but it wasn’t a crime, he added.
In order for a hate crime to occur, another crime has to have been committed with hatred as its motivation, said Maxwell.
“When you’re discussing a hate crime, you’re discussing a very specific crime, in terms of something that was committed with hate as a motivation against a specific group,” he said.
“They certainly said awful things, but just because you’re saying awful things doesn’t make it a crime.”
A constable from the force had a talk with the customer in question, who came back to pay for the gas that night, but he never apologized.
Brar said she’s not disappointed with the police, because the family never intended to press charges to begin with.
“In the moment we were pretty upset because it was such an unfortunate incident, but since everything that’s happened since then, with the support of our locals and the RCMP, we feel that there has been justice,” she said.