Note: As a result of media coverage naming the business, ARC has made the decision to not obscure the name of the restaurant, however we have obscured the name of the individual targeted.
On September 29, Mohawk College in Hamilton hosted a PPC event featuring Maxime Bernier and Dave Rubin.
Reports of Proud Boys and even members of Bernier's own security detail attacking counter protesters began to surface, however none of this was covered by any media.
Screenshot from the Proud Boys Canada Telegram channel confirming they
worked security for PPC leader Maxime Bernier in Hamilton
#HamOnt #PPC update: Counter-protester attacked by Bernier’s security detail.— Yellow Vests Canada Exposed 🏴 (@VestsCanada) September 30, 2019
An unidentified member of Bernier’s detail assaulted a non-violent anti-racist Hamilton resident.
This is a disturbing account, and one of many we’ve heard. #cdnpoli #cdnmedia #elxn43 pic.twitter.com/Fj6n9W5quH
While the media ignored the fact that Hamilton Police and hate groups essentially worked side-by-side to counter antifascists, one brief interaction did make the news when 3 antifascists blocked an elderly woman and her husband from walking toward the venue.
The video was first shared by the Hamilton Spectator, and boosted by a far-right twitter account, eventually being retweeted by elites within the far-right echo-chamber, including Andy Ngo, Lauren Chen, and Rubin himself. Ms. Marston, the elderly lady, and even her son, David Turkoski, have since spoken out.
The senior says she's aware Bernier's comments on immigration have upset people, but said she also has questions about who should be able to come to Canada. She says, in her opinion, immigration has been largely positive, but "maybe we shouldn't open the floodgates."
"I look at the Middle East and it frightens me, because there's no democracy … and the fighting in Syria and the values are different than ours," she said. Marston, who was a social worker for 40 years, says she's not a racist or a Nazi.
"I don't care what colour, what race, nothing. What people think, that to me is what's important."Oh. That's nice, we guess.
It was quickly latched onto as proof-positive of how awful "antifa" is, and the far-right ecosystem exploded with glee. Subsequently, a targeted harassment campaign of one of the protesters (who literally just stood there) ensued, once he was identified.
In addition to the antifascist himself, his family - who own a beloved and very popular Syrian restaurant in Toronto - were targeted with a relentless barrage of abuse and threats.
There's a lot of content here, so we're going to break it down by platform.
Of those who led the charge, Rick Boswick was one of the most prolific.
And the comments are full of racism and threats:
One comment even called for a lynch mob:
Unquestionably, it was also shared to other hate groups:
And we saw vile content all over Facebook:
In a video about the incident, Yellow Vester Elle Sophia Rosetti complaining that cops don't shoot antifascists (also note that masks are not illegal in protest; only in riots and unlawful assembly)
"Blanket parties" are a a disgusting hazing act where you throw a
blanket over someone and beat them
Derek Storie even took to spreading lies and conspiracy theories:
Even when the family took to social media to apologize, it only made the abuse worse.
Disgusting threats and comments were made across Twitter as well.
Not a threat, but it is interesting how Patron - leader of the CNP - is so supportive of doxxing given his desperation to keep his party's membership away from scrutiny
Multiple far-right figures released videos (sometimes multiple videos) on the matter, and this is where we saw some of the worst.
Rick Boswick cut footage of the incident, as well as past protests, with a video made by the targeted family about their arrival in Canada and their business, even accusing them of "discriminatory hiring practices," as the family made efforts to help newcomers with employment. It's likely his most viewed video to date.
After Hamilton's The Tower issued a thoughtful statement on the matter, Alex Van Hamme of Free Bird Media did a live stream on YouTube.
Rise Canada also released a video. While their viewership isn't the greatest, comments were still disgusting.
Many comments across social media called for boycotts, calls, and visits to the restaurant. Some even filmed themselves calling the restaurant and harassing the family.
From the restaurant's Instagram account
The reactions were celebratory on Facebook:
Although Van Hamme and others are now spreading the lie that it's probably a hoax.
Strange, considering this was "Mike's" next post:
Van Hamme and others continued the conspiracies and lies on YouTube.
Regardless of one's opinion on what happened in Hamilton, absolutely no one who isn't a fascist jackass would approve of what was done here. Even those who supported it by running with conspiracy theories and not checking their followers' comments - while maintaining that they don't believe any threats actually occurred (looking at you, Alex) are to blame.
Would the harassment be as bad if the owners were white? Probably not. This makes it clear that much of the abuse was racialized. It was bigotry.
This is gutwrenching for the family, but it also speaks to us as a country when we allow this to happen. This is not the only business to experience hatred. In September Queerflex, an LGBTQIA+ gym in Edmonton had to temporarily close due to threats from Ryan Dean.
This isn't the last targeted campaign against racialized folks, or antifascists. It's time to organize, fight back, and refuse to allow the far-right hate machine to control the narrative. Our future depends on it.
To the Alsoufi Family, stay strong. We support and love you.
Update: Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih has offered to pay for security to keep Soufi's open.
Update 2: Soufi's is planning to re-open.