Oshawa woman sentenced to time served for physical attacks on Muslims

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OSHAWA — An Oshawa woman accused of attacking people she identified as Muslims was sentenced to time served after pleading guilty Thursday to five counts of assault.

Georgina Cassidy pushed, kicked, and berated women and men in spontaneous attacks over the course of two days in May, court heard. The victims were targeted as they walked in a mall and enjoyed an afternoon at an Oshawa park during the Victoria Day weekend, a prosecutor said.

“This was a heinous crime. It was a hate crime. It was an attack on minorities in public places,” Crown attorney Ken Polley said.

“That is not our Canada,” Polley added. “That kind of behaviour must not be tolerated in our society.”

Cassidy, 48, was arrested soon after the attacks in May and has been in custody since. During her incarceration, she underwent an assessment that found she suffers from bipolar disorder, court heard.

Defence lawyer Sean Fraser said the incidents occurred during a time when Cassidy was in “crisis mode” arising from her condition. He said the behaviour is out of character for Cassidy.

“She’s not somebody that was known to watch Fox News and shout back in agreement,” Fraser said. “She has no explanation for her behaviour. More importantly, she has no excuse.”

According to facts read into the record Sept. 14, Cassidy mounted two separate attacks on people she identified as Muslims, beginning on May 21 when she deliberately placed herself between a man and woman who held hands as they walked through the Oshawa Centre mall. Cassidy berated the woman, who wore a hijab, called the couple terrorists, and threatened to kill them, Polley said.

Cassidy kicked the man and when two passersby intervened, she kicked them as well.

Cassidy was “yelling that they were Muslims who don’t belong here,” Polley said.

The next day, Cassidy approached a woman at Lakeview Park in Oshawa from behind and pushed her to the ground, court heard. As she left the area on her motorcycle, witnesses recorded her licence plate number.

When Durham police arrested Cassidy, she complained Muslims had been taking videos of her and her motorcycle, court heard.

Polley and Fraser made a joint sentencing submission that sees Cassidy sentenced to time served — a little more than five months when she’s given enhanced credit for pretrial custody. She’ll be on probation for three years, is prohibited from possessing weapons for five years, and has been ordered to surrender a sample of her DNA to police.

Prior to her arrest, Cassidy, when she went by the name Gina Cassidy, was active in online groups including A Million Deplorables March Against Trudeau; the site’s posts consist of news articles, memes, and comments that present derogatory views of Muslims.

The group Anti-Racist Canada has posted a link from the website WCAI — Worldwide Coalition Against Islam — that shows Gina Cassidy as a member.

durhamregion.com

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