Montreal Police were slow to respond to an incident in which a Jewish baby's stroller was rammed by an accelerating vehicle as the mother was crossing a street on November 16, community members told The Jerusalem Post.
Outrage over the incident grew on Wednesday after locals such as Outremont borough resident Sarah Dorner shared security footage on social media that showed the car appear to slow down, before gaining speed and slamming into the baby carriage, pushing it and the infant within out of the mother's hands and down the street.
CW: vehicular violence. pic.twitter.com/Vg2wDzfljW— Sarah Dorner (@sarahdorner) November 23, 2022
Community members and Canadian Jewish NGOs confirmed that both the mother and child escaped the incident unscathed, and that the driver escaped.
"The initial response from the police was slow."Mayer Feig
Outremont locals frustrated with slow Montreal Police response
Following the increased attention on the incident, police wrote on Wednesday "Regarding the hit-and-run involving a child in a stroller that occurred on November 16, the SPVM (Service de police de la Ville de Montréal) showed up at the scene at that time and an investigation has been ongoing since."The Outremont administrative head Laurent Desbois's office told The Post that they could not provide details on the ongoing investigation, but Desbois responded to Dorner's post on Twitter, saying "like all of you, I am in shock after watching this video. I am in communication with the SPVM and I hope that they will be able to quickly identify the driver of the vehicle."
Outremont November 16 2022. They are trying to find the driver. The police were called but NEVER CAME because the baby wasn’t hurt. Let me know if you recognize the car who deliberately sped up to hit the baby and then took off. I will pass the message. pic.twitter.com/ca0NeSMdl5— Rani @[email protected] (@ranic) November 23, 2022
"The initial response from the police was slow," community member Mayer Feig told The Post. "They claim they were investigating all along."
"There definitely was frustration with the police response initially," said Dorner. "I don’t know why the police didn’t prioritize this. This was a community-led response sharing the video with the public."
"There definitely was frustration with the police response initially."Sarah Dorner
Outremont locals spearhead investigation into hit-and-run
Dorner said that the community responded so strongly a week later because it was felt that as time passed, there would be less of a chance to find the person responsible.
"Some security cameras delete the videos after a week," Dorner explained. "By sharing with the public, neighbors with security cameras could look through their videos for any clues that could help with identifying the driver. I heard from one neighbor who checked and saw the car didn’t come down his street section."
Fieg shared that he "got an anonymous tip [on Thursday], a person claims they witnessed the event and provided a plate number. The investigators are currently tracking the driver and trying to locate him." He asked for people that might have seen the incident or "might have cameras in the area to come forward."
"By sharing with the public, neighbors with security cameras could look through their videos for any clues that could help with identifying the driver."Sarah Dorner
Jewish groups hesitant to attribute motive
Jewish organizations such as The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and B’nai Brith Canada issued statements saying that they were in touch with law enforcement, but were cautious to not yet attribute motive to the hit-and-run. One NGO told The Post that it isn't known if the incident was motivated by hate or simply reckless driving and while texting on a phone.
Dorner said that "If people are being careful about attribution of motive, it’s partly because the priority for our community is solving this crime. That means working together. We won’t learn about the motive if the driver is not found. No one is jumping to conclusions, but everyone is deeply concerned. I am not Jewish, but I care a lot about my Jewish neighbors."
She also said that "the video is shocking and it’s impossible to accept this behavior. This is a neighborhood with many young children who walk to school, babies in carriages. Even if the motive is not hate, the behavior is horrific. Of course, many of us also worry about hate crimes. We don’t know the motive. But the driver left the scene. This is not respectful of the lives of others."
Feig echoed Dorner's caution, saying "For now we can't know if it was a distracted driver or intentional," adding that they needed to speak to the driver to see what happened.
"Antisemitism has no place in Montreal."Bnai Brith Canada
Canadian community bands together
Dorner expressed pride that the Outremont community banded together over the hit-and-run.
"It has been good to see our wider community come together as a result of this terrible incident," she said. "Many have expressed concern for the well-being of the baby’s family. It’s important."
"The priority for our community is solving this crime. That means working together."Sarah Dorner
Feig cautioned the public "to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings."