C/O Robin Worrall, Unsplash

Hamilton police investigated shooting threat made against McMaster University and Mohawk College

On Sunday, Nov. 7, a screenshot began circulating around social media which claimed that someone had made a shooting threat against McMaster University and Mohawk College for Monday, Nov. 8. 

Messages in the screenshot showed an individual warning others not to go to campus on Monday. This screenshot was spread through various social media platforms, such as Instagram and the Spotted at Mac Facebook page. 

That day, a statement was released through McMaster Daily News, saying that the police had been informed of the situation and that McMaster would be proceeding with classes as usual on Nov. 8. 

“The university has not been made aware of any reason not to go ahead with its usual operations. Based on the information that McMaster has received, McMaster will be operating normally on Monday,” stated the university. 

Navya Sheth, a second-year student at McMaster University, noted that most of her initial information about the shooting threat was learned from discussions with her peers. Sheth said her peers reacted to the shooting threat and to McMaster’s statement in different ways. 

“Several of my friends were really concerned and took [the threat] really seriously. Others were not concerned at all and didn’t think that it was going to happen regardless. And then there was a third smaller fraction which might have been concerned, but then, when the university took action and when class was still running, decided to continue as normal,” said Sheth. 

“Several of my friends were really concerned and took [the threat] really seriously. Others were not concerned at all and didn’t think that it was going to happen regardless. And then there was a third smaller fraction which might have been concerned, but then, when the university took action and when class was still running, decided to continue as normal.”

Nayva Sheth, Second-year McMaster Student

On the morning of Nov. 8, Mohawk College released a statement on Twitter. 

“Police are investigating and there is no indication that this represents a credible threat. College campuses and services will be operating as normal today,” stated Mohawk. 

On the morning of Monday, Nov. 8, the Hamilton Police followed up with their own statement on Twitter, saying that they had located the source of the threat. 

The Hamilton Police managed the investigation into the shooting threat and determined that it was not credible. 

The Hamilton Police managed the investigation into the shooting threat and determined that it was not credible.

Still, both McMaster and Mohawk experienced increased police presence on Monday, Nov. 8, as a precaution.

Photo by Kyle West

CW: Islamophobia, violence

 

On March 19, hundreds of students, faculty and staff filled the McMaster University Student Centre courtyard to mourn the victims of the Christchurch massacre.

The terrorist attack was committed on March 15 by a white supremacist who opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing a total of 50 people and injuring 50 others.

The attack was considered the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s recent history.

The vigil was organized by the McMaster Muslim Students Association in collaboration with the McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice and the McMaster Womanists. The three groups brought 15 speakers from various parts of the community to speak.

The vigil began with a recitation from the Quran.

In a particularly poignant moment following the recitation, the organizers honoured and read out the names of the 50 who died due to the attack.

A theme echoed throughout the vigil was that the attack reflected a larger movement of white supremacy, Islamophobia and bigotry across the globe.

“White supremacy exists, toxic masculinity exists, misogyny exists. Xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia exist. These things exist in New Zealand, in the United States. They also exist right here in Canada, in Ontario, in Hamilton,” said Khadijeh Rakie, a staff member of the McMaster Equity and Inclusion Office.

Rakie encouraged Muslim people to grieve freely.

“I don’t think our strength or grief must be looked at in one way, or need to be performative or palatable or always available for public consumption,” said Rakie.

Speakers pointed out the connection between Christchurch and the 2017 Quebec mosque attack, completed by a white supremacist, which killed six people in prayer.

“Far-right populist leaders around the world and false media narratives have stoked the fires behind the dehumanization and demonization of Muslims worldwide, causing events like the one in Christchurch,” said one student speaker.

Many speakers also expressed appreciation for other faith groups who have supported and stood in solidarity with them since the attack.

Other speakers encouraged Muslim and non-Muslims alike to actively stand against discrimination in all its forms.

“As different societies face all forms of prejudice, persecution and rhetoric against immigrants, refugees, visitors and worshippers of all kinds of faith, backgrounds, and communities, we must all stand together against all forms of violence, ignorance and hatred,” said another student speaker.

Mahmood Haddara, the president of McMaster MSA, called for compassion and unity.

“We need at times like these to build those connections with each other, to turn towards each other, to remind ourselves of that love and that connection, to look at the person next to you regardless  of their skin colour or their belief and remind yourself that they are your brother or sister in humanity,” said Haddara.

Following the speeches, the organizers held an open prayer in the MUSC atrium.

Gachi Issa, one of the organizers of the vigil, said she is grateful for the support from the McMaster community and hopes the vigil will also spark discussion about discrimination and Islamophobia in Hamilton and on the McMaster campus.

“The message is first and foremost to mourn these [50] and counting victims in New Zealand, but it’s also to localize it,” said Issa. “The same thing that has killed them affects us here.”

 

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Article contains graphic descriptions of violence. 

After the Oregon shooting, I watched Obama’s speech to the American public. It was heartfelt and powerful, and I could not help but agree with the President’s call for legislative gun control. He was visibly upset, and so was I. I can’t imagine feeling that my safety could be so easily compromised by someone with their finger on a trigger. And yet, sometime between listening to Obama claim that America would “wrap everyone who is grieving with prayers and love,” and the hospital bombing in Kunduz, Afghanistan on Oct. 3rd, I lost faith.

On the first of October, a shooter opened fire at Umpqua Community College, killing nine. This is not an article asking you to be any less passionate about gun control, nor do I want to diminish this tragedy. Instead I want to ask you the uncomfortable question of why we allow Obama to call for the preservation of American lives, while simultaneously disregarding Afghani ones.

A large factor is rhetoric. We have become far too familiar with the excuse of terrorist activity justifying civilian casualties. The American military has admitted that they may have caused “collateral damage” to the Kunduz hospital – which was bombed for an hour – killing both employees and patients. “Ten to fifteen terrorists” were using the hospital, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry, “they are dead now.” Meanwhile, hospital staff reported seeing patients in the intensive care unit burn in their beds during the resulting fires. Regardless of whether or not the Taliban was using the hospital as a base, the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and the UN have all condemned the act as a war crime. Terrorism should not be an excuse that we are willing to accept for this loss of life.

In his response to the shooting at Oregon, Obama asked us to be compassionate. To think about those “who were studying, and learning, and working hard, with their eyes set on the future.” He begged us to “let young people grow up.” His statement about Kunduz in contrast was short – less than 200 words posted on the Whitehouse website – and dry. Mr. President, it is hard for me to swallow your compassion for grieving families when it is selective.

I recognize the implication of asking the President of the United States to try and care for all lives globally. I understand that the leader of one country cannot possibly guide us single handedly to beat the world’s swords into ploughshares. Suppose you argue that Obama was elected by the American people, for the betterment of the American people alone, and thus his focus on gun control and mass shootings is not unwarranted. Maybe you disagree that all lives should be of equal value to the President, regardless of citizenship. This insular thinking is counter productive.

We are part of a global community, and the actions of individual governments have widespread ramifications, not just for others, but for ourselves. American mistreatment of foreign civilians backfires by destabilizing the Afghani government, which is forced to justify attacks on citizens from their supposed ally. It must be hard to swallow the Taliban as the ultimate enemy when Americans are the ones who bombed your hospital. If Americans want to bring stability to the Middle East – if for no other reason than protecting themselves from terrorism – then the path to doing so is through the preservation of civilian life.

If Obama wants gun control, I fully support it, however I want it to come with restrictions on military might. Mr. President you were right in saying that “our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” but I will not be convinced that you are genuine until your actions – not just words – show that you care not just about Americans, but also lives abroad. Until then, we should not accept your apologies.

Photo Credit: Doctors without Borders

By: Alex Zavaries

Over the past several days the news has been saturated with coverage of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks and the subsequent attacks throughout Paris and the surrounding area. A total of 17 people were killed and 14 were injured in these attacks, making it the deadliest terrorist attack in France since the Vitry-Le-Francois train bombing in 1961. The most recent attacks sparked massive marches and vigils throughout France to commemorate the victims, and many participants also held signs or banners that read things such as, “I am against racism,” “freedom of speech,” “I am against fascism,” “unity,” and most notably, “Je Suis Charlie,” which is a world-wide trending topic on Twitter.

While this is a time of mourning for France and the world, the events have nevertheless raised many issues that the people of France and their government will soon have to address. Among the criticism of French intelligence and national security, the question of racial and religious tolerance will surely become the focal point of discussion as France attempts to move forward from these attacks.

However, the issue of racial and religious tolerance is not a new phenomenon for France. It was only in 2010 that France legally banned women from publicly wearing the niqab, a Muslim veil that covers the entire face. The penalty for breaking this law includes a fine of up to 150 euros. With a Muslim population of more than five million people (the largest Muslim minority in Western Europe), such a law affects a considerable amount of France’s population. There have been several attempts at appealing this law, but to no avail, even though the law blatantly infringes on the freedoms of expression and religion.

What happened in Paris this week could very well be the catalyst to a serious conversation that France needs to have about tolerance. While the extremist actions of two men that resulted in the loss of 17 innocent lives should not and will not be minimized, these events are only a small window into the social unrest currently unraveling in France. But how is France expected to unite as a nation and move forward from these attacks when it is illegal for a woman from the largest religious minority in the country to wear a religious veil?

If there is to be a positive consequence of the events of this week, it will be the earnest attempt by the people of France to force their government into bringing about real change surrounding race and religious tolerance – the change that France and her people need.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Charles Platiau

By: Ben Robinson

In the wake of last week’s shooting on Parliament Hill it is important to try and understand what really motivated the events in order to avoid them in the future.

At first, with the limited information available, there was speculation that it must be a terrorist attack, perhaps somehow associated with ISIL. Whenever a shooting like this happens, there is a scramble in the media to try and learn as much about the people involved as possible.

But the details that are reported are not always innocuous as they seem. Michael Zehef-Bibeau, the man who shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was immediately connected with a mosque that he attended three years ago. If it had been reported that he went to a certain church three years ago would that have been deemed relevant to print?

It was also reported that Zehef-Bibeau applied for a Libyan passport, not so subtly implying a connection to North Africa. It is strange that something as mundane as a passport application would be deemed newsworthy when the same article states that Michael Zehef-Bibeau's family is from Libya and that he was hoping to visit them. The limited details the press chose to focus on about Zehef-Bibeau being tied to Libya and Islam seem to be more distracting than edifying. Thus, this all too familiar characterization of “the shooter” directs readers toward an assumption that this was yet another terrorist attack by a Muslim extremist with ties to North Africa.

To explain this away with the palatable yet highly reductive motive of terrorism may ease the dissonance for those struggling to comprehend how this could happen to the “true North strong and free.” But it also leaves individuals feeling powerless to do anything. The spectre of terrorism often seems to loom too large for people to do anything other than be angry.

A recent CBC report confirmed that the man behind the shooting, Michael Zehef-Bibeau, had been arrested multiple times and on multiple occasions came forward to police asking to be taken into custody. In one instance he went as far as telling police “I wanted to come to jail so I could clean up,” and "if you release me what's going to happen again? Probably the same loop and I'm going to be right back here again.” This man was self-aware enough to know that he posed a risk to others in his current state and so for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to come forward and say “our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest” in response to the shootings misses the point.

There was no need for surveillance or detection in this case; Zehef-Bibeau was forthright about the support he needed from various government agencies, and he was denied. The importance of mental health funding is more apparent than ever as we now know the consequences of neglecting it. This issue was brought literally to the steps of Parliament Hill, right outside of Stephen Harper’s door. Hopefully the real story will not be drowned out amidst the cries of terrorism.

Terrorism necessitates a greater cause, something for the public to be scared of. Who is to be feared in this situation? This was not terrorism. This was a tragedy that could have been avoided. Let's put away the calls for increased police presence and begin the preventative mental health work that so clearly needs to be done. Not one, but two men died on Parliament Hill last week, and both deaths could have been avoided.

In an effort to identify more suspects connected to the Nov. 30 murder of McMaster student Tyler Johnson, Hamilton police have released a series of surveillance camera videos and have appealed to the public to name the men caught on camera.

All of the footage is from the area around Tim Hortons and Vida La Pita on King Street West in between Caroline Street and Hess Street.

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In this video, police are “looking to identify two suspects described as white males walking in the video, one white male wearing a blue jacket and red hoody, second white male wearing a black hoody jacket.”

[youtube id="lKMM7ZcScZY" width="620" height="360"]

In this video, police are trying to identify "the two persons described as white males walking out the door, one white male wearing a white shirt, dark colored vest and baseball hat is considered a suspect, the second white male is a person of interest and wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and white shoes."

[youtube id="fhP5xaUUrvY" width="620" height="360"]

In this third video, police need to identify "the suspect walking through the door wearing the white shirt, dark colored vest, baseball hat, blue jeans and dark colored footwear."

[youtube id="L_iGPbC16JM" width="620" height="360"]

In this last video, police are looking to identify "a person of interest at the cash counter described as a white male with black short hair, wearing a Puma shirt, a black jacket with the lettering GRRC on the back, blue jeans and white shoes."

[youtube id="NJ5qzfMtapg" width="620" height="360"]

Only one arrest has been made so far in connection with the early morning shooting and slaying of Johnson. Brandon Barreira, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder and more arrests are expected as police search for further suspects.

Anyone with information about the suspects and persons of interest in the above videos is urged to make contact with Detective Jason Cattle of the homicide unit at 905-546-4123 or to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

 

 

 

Tyler Johnson, a 30-year-old engineering student, was fatally shot on Nov. 30.

An arrest has finally been made following the Nov. 30 murder of a McMaster mechanical engineering student.

Brandon Barreira, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the early morning shooting and slaying of Tyler Johnson, 30, in the parking lot of Vida La Pita and Tim Hortons on King Street West near Hess Village.

Police, who now identify the fatality as a targeted murder, are using surveillance video to try and identify more suspects involved in the incident.

The following video has been released in an effort to identify remaining suspects. Police are "looking to identify two suspects described as white males walking in the video, one white male wearing a blue jacket and red hoody, second white male wearing a black hoody jacket."

[youtube id="lKMM7ZcScZY" width="620" height="360"]

Anyone with further information is urged to make contact with Detective Jason Cattle of the homicide unit at 905-546-4123 or to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Grief counselling is being offered to students affected by the death of their peer at the Student Wellness Centre in McMaster University Student Centre room B101. Appointments can be made at the Centre or by calling 905-525-9140 x27700.

 

 

Photos by Yousif Haddad

photos --> news --> unedited photos --> oct 30 --> finerual --> best photos --> 1tiff files

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