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Last-Modified: 1997/03/30

4. The Crimes: Two Case Studies
by Bernie M. Farber

While statistics prepared by Metro Police suggest most hate
crimes are committed by individuals not directly connected
to any Organized hate group, it can be argued that the hate
propaganda efforts of racist groups and others certainly set
a tone and a climate that nourish the hate in people not
necessarily members of their groups.

And too, a look at the hate-motivated crimes committed by
members of hate groups suggests they are more vicious and
have a disproportionate effect on their intended victims.
Here's a look at two such crimes from recent files.


4.1 Hate Music and Racist Violence

On a hot summer night in late August 1993 a young violent
neo-Nazi skinhead by the name of Jason Hoolans, was
attending a "hate rock concert" sponsored by the neo-Nazi
Heritage Front. George Burdi's band RaHoWa was being
featured along with another hate-rock group known as ARYAN.
This hate rock concert was held in a North York bar and
attracted over 250 young people.

Hate rock "hits" including "These Boots are Made for Stompin
(Jews)" and "Let's go Coon Huntin ' Tonight " were sung with
vitriolic exuberance.

Pumped up by beer and alcohol and injected with these evil
musical lyrics, Jason Hoolan's went "coon huntin" that
night.

His innocent victim was a young immigrant, from Sri Lanka,
by the name of Sivarajah (Rajah) Vinasithamby. Rajah and his
young family had immigrated from Sri Lanka to Canada only a
few months earlier. Although a qualified and experienced
science teacher, Rajah had taken a job as a dishwasher in a
downtown restaurant in order to support his wife and two
young children.
There was to be a fateful and tragic meeting that night.

In his "reasons for sentence" at the trial of Jason Hoolans,
Justice Hugh Locke put it this way:

     "Mr. Hoolans wore heavy steel toed work boots, pseudo
     army combat pants and a t shirt. He and others of his
     ilk that night walked the streets and the alleys of
     Toronto looking for victims. His object was to
     obviously satisfy a certain perverted urge to do
     physical violence to other human beings, especially
     those whose skin colour is not white.
     
     Mr. Vinasithamby that night was finishing his shift as
     a dishwasher in a restaurant located on or near Bloor
     Street. As part of his duties he stepped into his alley
     at the back door of the restaurant in order to dispose
     of garbage. He did that as Mr. Hoolans, ..., was
     stalking the alley at that location.
     
     In the result, the accused attacked the complainant,
     put him to the ground and then proceeded to administer
     a savage beating to Mr. Vinasithamby, which included
     multiple kicks to the latter' s head by the accused,
     who was wearing those heavy steel toed work boots."
     
     ....The acts of this accused have left his victim with
     permanent injuries of a most serious type. This was a
     totally unprovoked, deliberate cowardly  attack. The
     complainant is a victim in the most accurate sense of
     the word.
     
     ...Mr. Hoolans at all material times was a member of a
     racial hate group dedicated to perpetration  of
     violence upon members of visible minorities as well
     upon Jews and others."

Interestingly, during the course of the trial, at which Mr.
Hoolans pled guilty in his own defense he  noted: "As long
as I can remember I was in trouble with the police.".

When asked by defense counsel Daniel Brodsky, why it was he
joined a neo-Nazi skinhead group  Hoolans stated:

     ..."It seemed that they belonged to an empire. I felt a
     sense of belonging.''

It was Jason Hoolans testimony that he was "brainwashed" by
hate material and most specifically  hate music which led
him to the kinds of actions he committed against racial
minorities.

     "The skinhead's enemies were visible minorities, whites
     who were sympathetic to visible minorities  and
     homosexuals. Skinheads were a new breed, like a pack of
     wolves."

In sentencing Jason Hoolans to 5 years in penitentiary
Justice Hugh Locke found racial hatred as a motivating
factor. To this day the sentence imposed on Jason Hoolans
remains as the longest and most significant amount of prison
time given to a neo-Nazi skinhead for racist violence.


4.2 A Synagogue Desecration

Several years ago on a quiet summer evening in a residential
area of downtown Toronto, Sharon M.  aged 19 was having a
party at her parents' home. Mr. & Mrs. M were away for the
weekend.  Sharon, a part-time cadet with the Canadian Armed
Forces, was not known to be a trouble maker.  Recently,
however, Sharon had met a new group of friends, racist skin-
heads. She was particularly  attracted to a young neo-Nazi
skin-head, Zvonimir Lelas, at the time aged 21.

Alcohol, loud music and profanity were the order of the
evening. Soon a plan was to emerge:

"During the course of the evening it was suggested that the
group would go to a synagogue for the  purpose of spray-
painting it with paint"

Checking the yellow pages, a nearby synagogue was located;
the Shaarei Shomayim a few blocks  from Sharon M's home.
Approaching the synagogue, Lelas and Sharon wasted no time.
In an orgy  of antisemitic hatred, Lelas sprayed two large
swastikas circled in red on the main doors of the  building,
followed by "Smash the Zog" (antisemitic acronym for Zionist
Occupational Government).

Working in a frenzy, Lelas and Sharon added "White Power"
and more swastikas to the walls and windows of the
synagogue.

The night of hatred was not yet over. To complete the
evening, Lelas spray-painted Nazism and a swastika on the
Hebrew day school sign, located not far from the synagogue.
As well, spray painted on the door of the Hebrew day school
was the phrase "ZOG HAS DIED." Prior to completing his
night' s task, Lelas painted a large swastika on the hood of
a car which, as it turned out, was Jewish owned. This would
become significant in the investigation to follow.

The house chairman of the Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue and a
Holocaust survivor was the first person at the scene to
witness the damage. In giving a victim impact statement to
the court during the Lelas sentencing, he recalled that
terrible day:

     "I don't have to tell you how much I was personally
     emotionally hurt as a survivor to see after 45 years
     that horrible thing on our synagogue.''

Under the chairmanship of the late David Satok, the
Community Relations Committee, Canadian Jewish Congress,
Ontario Region decided for the first time to offer a reward
of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and
conviction of the perpetrators. Over the next 5 days, 40
different religious, ethnic and minority groups came forward
and added to the CJC reward. People and organizations from
all walks of life: Black, Chinese, Anglican, Japanese,
Serbian, Roman Catholic and many more had come together in a
unique show of solidarity raising the reward to an
unprecedented $25,000.

Then, days later, after having received several useless
"tips" Canadian Jewish Congress received a significant phone
call. One piece of crucial information had been withheld
from the media - the swastika painted on the car hood - yet
this caller knew the entire story, including the swastika on
the car.

Canadian Jewish Congress facilitated in linking the
informant with the police. Zvonimir Lelas and Sharon M were
arrested. Interestingly, Lelas was preparing to lead a group
of neo-Nazi skinheads to a neo-Nazi rally being held that
summer in a small town outside of metro Toronto. As a result
of Lelas's quick arrest, the neo-Nazi skinheads were
leaderless and drifted away leaving the event sparsely
attended.

Both Lelas and Sharon M pleaded guilty to "mischief" and
"property" offenses. Sharon M had no prior record, nor any
prior connection to neo-Nazi groups. She was given a
suspended sentence. Lelas, on the other hand, was different.
He had a lengthy history of involvement with neo-Nazi
groups, including a leading role as an Exalted Cyclops with
a Ku Klux Klan cell. Despite this information, as well as
victim impact statements from synagogue members and the
Canadian Jewish Congress, Lelas was only ordered to pay
restitution and serve a six month sentence.

The Crown appealed the sentence and a year later the Ontario
Court of Appeal granted the application and upheld the
appeal substituting a sentence of one year. In writing for
the majority, Justice Houlden stated,

     "When mischief is racially or religiously motivated and
     is done to cause emotional injury or shock to a
     particular segment of Canadian society, it calls for a
     far more severe penalty than mischief which is done
     merely to damage property A sentence of 6 months is not
     in my opinion sufficient to show society's general
     abhorrence over the acts of the respondent. The message
     must go out loud and clear that conduct such as that
     engaged in by the respondent will not be tolerated in
     Canadian society....and will be met with a severe
     penalty."

Since Justice Houlden's statement on sentence, the Canadian
government has passed Bill C41 which now makes it mandatory
across the country for judges to take into consideration
during sentence, "hate" as a motivating factor in the crime.
Bill C4 1 has become a primary tool in fighting hate-crime
in Canada.


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