Teen with special needs harassed at Surrey nail salon, family says
Published Sunday, August 25, 2019 2:39PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, August 26, 2019 6:45PM PDT
The family of a teenager with special needs is speaking out after she was berated by a stranger at a nail salon.
The incident happened Friday at Icon Nails and Spa in Surrey's Guildford neighbourhood.
Margaret Young and her two daughters, Courtney and Dani Lynes, were getting pedicures when another customer started yelling at Courtney to stop staring.
When Young explained that Courtney, 18, has special needs, the other woman started yelling more loudly.
"She said: Shame on you for bringing an idiot into the world and we're all going to hell because I did bring such a retard into this world and that we all should've died," Young said.
Salon patrons said the dispute began to escalate when the woman appeared to want to fight Young.
"[She] began to threaten to punch and hit, pushing chairs out of the way, pushing people out of the way, coming at the mother and the mother was naturally, understandably reactive as well," said Caroline Sebraoui, who witnessed the encounter.
Security footage obtained by CTV News Vancouver shows salon patrons and staff members trying to intervene by standing between Young and the woman, and holding them apart.
Eventually, staff members were able to kick the woman out of the salon and lock the door.
But Dani Lynes said that didn't stop the woman from tormenting them.
"The whole time she was outside, she was banging on the window, making faces at us and fingering us," she said.
Salon patrons said they were appalled to see the woman discriminate against the teen.
"This was pure ignorance," Sabraoui said. "It was shocking and when the mom tried to defend her daughter and everybody was trying to help, this person didn't stop and flipping fingers and swearing and using such foul language."
Courtney became inconsolable and started to cry during the entire ordeal, the family said.
"She had her hands up and she's sobbing and she said, 'Why I die? Why I die?'" Dani Lynes said. "I'm holding her hand and I tell her, 'Courtney, that woman is mean. She doesn't understand.'"
Staff, customers rally behind Courtney
In the moment of unexpected hate, salon staff and customers showed Courtney and her family compassion.
Dani Lynes said the staff comforted Courtney.
"One of the ladies went to the back got her some cookies out of her lunch bag. Another salon lady said, 'Let's put some flowers on your toe nails, sweetheart.' And they just all stepped up to try to make Courtney feel better," she said.
She said other customers went up to Courtney to hold her hands and give the family encouragement.
Despite the kind moments after the fight, the family is rattled that the argument happened at all.
"It hurts that anybody can be so cruel and I never, ever thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever have to defend my special needs child," Young said.
Dani Lynes said the family made multiple 911 calls to the surrey RCMP and they waited 45 minutes before police arrived.
"Police say it's a breach of peace and [the woman] was just speaking how she felt and that's allowed. I feel like if that's a racism issue or a gender issue, it wouldn’t be accepted and nobody is sticking up for those with special needs," she said. "We need to protect them, elderly, and the mentally and physically disabled. Who's protecting my sister?"
The family would like to see the Surrey RCMP charge the woman with a hate crime.
CTV News has contacted Surrey RCMP for more information about their response to the situation. This story will be updated if and when a response is received.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday