Shocking video of racist taunts prompts backlash, vigilantism
VANCOUVER -- Warning: This story contains offensive language.
A South Asian man in Surrey posted a disturbing video of racist taunts directed at his father — hoping people can learn by seeing what a verbal attack based on race looks like.
The young man in the video issued a public apology Thursday, a week after the video took on a life of its own, racking up hundreds of thousands of shares on social media, and prompting the RCMP to also warn against vigilante justice.
“It saddens me that words that were used to discriminate against my father, who immigrated from India 30 years ago, are still being used against him today,” said Karn Cheema in a statement to CTV News.
Kayl Riddoch, seen in the video, said the racist comments he said were made in the heat of the moment and were out of character.
“I will never forget what I did and I will feel shame and regret over this forever,” he said.
Tension had been rising between the two families over loud motorcycles and the placement of their vehicles on the street. On May 28, surveillance video of the neighbourhood shows Cheema’s father Paul stopping his truck in the street in front of the Riddoch family home.
Riddoch and a friend approached him from the right side, and walk in front as he edges forward in the truck.
“Why you do this?” Cheema can be heard asking in his cell phone video of the event. “I don’t hit you.”
“You’re a clown,” Riddoch fires back. “You’re a fucking brown paki. That’s what you are. Get out of here you fucking brownie. Get out of here.”
Both families had called the RCMP, which attended, but officers didn’t feel Riddoch’s behaviour warranted charges.
“What started as a dispute around traffic escalated into a verbal confrontation, and an individual did make racist comments,” said Cpl. Elenore Sturko.
The Cheemas received negative reviews of their business on social media, and Riddoch posted the surveillance video on Saturday.
Karn Cheema posted his father’s cellphone video in response. That has been shared at least 300,000 times on various platforms.
And the backlash involved threats to Riddoch’s father’s business, vandalism, and “explicit threats to violently attack, sexually assault and murder myself and my family,” Riddoch posted.
“It’s OK to be upset and outraged about racist comments. It’s important that you act within the law,” Sturko said.
Officers tried to mediate, trying to defuse the tension between the families by asking the Cheemas to take the video down. That didn’t go over well with the Cheemas, who say they never intended to cause pain, but want racism in this country to be acknowledged.
“It was a suggestion by our officers that would alleviate tension,” Sturko said. “Just a suggestion, not a direction.”
Racism is surging in the pandemic, with more hate crimes reported to police. Worldwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis have prompted a global reckoning on many forms of racism.
Thanks to cellphones, many such incidents are caught on camera — often from the perspective of those receiving the abuse.
Riddoch’s father Ray told CTV News over the phone the impact on his family has been enormous.
A truck belonging to the family business has been vandalized and the family has been inundated with frightening messages, he said. Kayl Riddoch has taken down videos, he said.
“He wanted to apologize face to face but that wasn’t accepted. I chewed him out, I don't know how long, when it went down,” he said. “It’s 2020 and that stuff shouldn’t be said. It was said in the heat of the moment.
“We’re not trying to say it was right. We owned it. We know. We’re trying to stop this,” he said.