Original Published on Jul 16, 2022 at 00:24

By Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The man allegedly involved in a racist incident at a Lasalle Boulevard convenience store on Saturday can be heard calling the other customer involved the N-word 18 times in a video of the incident circulating online. 

In the video, which was taken by the alleged victim, Tamba Baba, the man can be heard arguing with the male clerk about his scanning his items.

When the argument between the two men grows more intense, Baba interjects and says, “He’s doing whatever he can. I think you should be a little nicer.”

In response, the man directs his frustration towards her. “I think you should shut the f—k up and mind your own f—king business.”

The two-part video is just over three minutes long, and was originally posted to Instagram by Baba, before it was taken down. 

Though the video clearly shows the man’s face serveral times, he has not yet been publicly identified by authorities, despite rumours of his identity on social media. 

Throughout the video, the two engage in a heated back-and-forth, where the man repeatedly calls Baba racial slurs, including calling her the N-word at least 18 times, and telling her to “Shut your Black mouth,” among other insults.

During the argument, Baba tells the man, “You need to be f—king nice,” and “I don’t give a f—k that you work 12 hours. Don’t talk to (the clerk) like that.”

In response to his repeated racial comments, she said, “Don’t ever be f—king racist towards me again,” to which the man responded, “F—k you, you f—king (N-word). No one’s acting like a (N-word) except you.”

The argument then moves outside, as Baba demands that the man get out of the store and threatens to call the police.

“Call the cops, bitch,” the man said. “You’re the one harassing me.”

The rest of the video includes a few bystanders getting involved as the man moves away, continuing to direct racist insults at Baba. 

“You know what an (N-word) is?” he said at one point. “It’s not a Black person. A Black person is a nice respectful person. Someone who acts like a (N-word) is someone who starts tripping out randomly in a store.”

In comments to CTV, Baba said she tried to be polite and first, but admits that the comments and insults made her angry, causing her to get physical first. 

In her original Instagram post, she wrote, “He wanted to get physical with me (and) tried to push me, so I slapped him across his face and dragged his body to the ground, where I punched him again,” she said. “I’m all in favour that violence is not the answer but (that) night it was. Words weren’t going through his head so yes, I did punch him.”

According to reports, the altercation ended with Baba hitting the ground face first, resulting in a chipped tooth, scratches, and a bloodied lip. 

In a statement, Black Lives Matter Sudbury condemned the attack, adding that they are in contact with Baba and are providing her with resources and support. 

 “Despite the fact that a single individual perpetrated this act, we know this is not an isolated incident,” they wrote. “While Sudbury attempts to pride itself on being an inclusive, safe, and friendly community, the (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) population and specifically Black community members continue to face attacks of this nature regularly and without hesitation.”

They added, “We condemn any suggestion that the victim brought the violence onto themselves by speaking up for another person … or standing up against hateful slurs.”

Though police had been contacted, the organization’s officials said they felt that not enough was being done to address the situation. 

According to earlier comments from Baba, officers who contacted her after the incident told her to drop her complaint, cautioning that she could be charged because she got physical first.

“Even when incidents escalate to violence … the police do not look out for Black bodies,” said BLM Sudbury. “This is not news to us, and we cannot stress enough the important of community care and keeping each other safe.”

Following initial reports of the incident, Greater Sudbury Police released a statement on social media stating, “We take reports of hate-motivated crime and hate-bias incidents very seriously.”

It then added, “We ask community members to refrain from attempting to identify and/or contact the individuals believed to be involved in this incident. Individuals not involved in the incident are being harassed/threatened as a result of incorrect information circulating on social media.”

According to Kaitlyn Dunn, communications coordinator for police, the individual involved has been identified and the investigation is ongoing. There have been no reports of an arrest. 

She added that from Jan. 1 and May 31 of this year, police in Sudbury have responded to eight reported hate-bias/hate-motivated incidents.

In response to those concerns raised over the years about police handling of racist incidents, Dunn said they “continue to work with our internal members, community members and community partners to build public trust through transparency and community engagement through education and awareness.”

Investigation into the incident is ongoing. None of these allegations have been tested in court. 

This item reprinted with permission from The Star, Sudbury, Ontario