Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Too few hate crimes solved by police: stats

Charges laid in only 7 of 88 reported cases

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Fewer than 10 per cent of reported hate crimes in Winnipeg over the last six years have been solved.

According to data obtained under access to information, 88 hate crimes were reported to Winnipeg police between 2004 and 2009. As of October 2010, only seven of those have resulted in charges laid by police.

Mark Feuer's case is one of the rare few that was cleared, though it took almost 18 months.

In 2008, Feuer, then 45, was called a "fat faggot" and an "AIDS carrier" and almost blinded after being struck by a sharp object while walking home from work.

"I thought he had taken my eye out," said Feuer of the youth who attacked him.

Feuer filed charges and in January 2010, the minor was found guilty of committing a hate crime and sentenced to intensive psychological counselling and community service.

Feuer believes his persistence with the legal system got him results.

"I was diligent in my pursuit," he said. "Numerous times I called the prosecution. I wasn't going to be scared away."

Feuer's case is an anomaly. According to data from the Winnipeg Police Service, 81 hate-crime cases remain unsolved.

Several requests for an interview with the Winnipeg Police Service were denied.

Susan Baragar, a Crown attorney who handled Feuer's case and another recent hate-crime case, said many victims do not come forward because of the months that pass between the initial attack and the sentencing.

And she said if police can't find a suspect, no charges can be laid.

"The issue is identification with hate crimes," she said. "It's difficult to find out who did it in the first place. That's the hardest part."

Canadian data from 2008 show most hate-crime perpetrators -- 60 per cent -- were youths between the ages of 12 and 22. Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation increased by almost 50 per cent in 2008 over 2007 and were the most likely to involve violence.

Feuer's case is a classic example. He was attacked on a summer afternoon while walking home from work on busy Portage Avenue.

Feuer knew the minor who attacked him. He tried to walk away, but the youth gave chase on his bicycle, blocked Feuer's path and struck him with an object similar to a crowbar. Before running off, the youth threatened to kill Feuer.

Kirandhillon170@gmail.com  andrew.p.kress@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2010 A4

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