Toronto Police Arrest ‘Swastika Man’ for Third Antisemitic Attack in Two Months
A Toronto resident dubbed “Swastika Man” after being photographed with the Nazi symbol drawn on his chest is in the custody of local police, charged with a third antisemitic assault in the space of two months.
Michael Park, 32, of no fixed address, appeared in court on Monday over an incident involving a woman who was waiting on a Toronto subway platform on Saturday afternoon.
Park’s victim, Sarah Gillis, told Canadian news outlet Global News that he approached her while she sat waiting for a train, asking her twice whether she was a Jew. When Gillis didn’t respond, Park gave a Nazi salute and asked her if she knew what the gesture meant.
“So I said to him, ‘Have a nice day,'” Gillis recalled. “That’s when he said, ‘You are a Jew,’ and he came towards me.”
Park abruptly grabbed Gillis, who is not Jewish, forcing her into a headlock before another man intervened, pulling him off. According to Gillis, Park then fled the scene by jumping on a subway train. Police arrested him on Sunday.
The attack was at least the third antisemitic outrage carried out by Park since July.
On July 6, a shirtless Park was photographed with a swastika drawn on his chest shortly after he was seen yelling antisemitic slurs and throwing objects at another person at Stanley Park, in the King Street West and Walnut Avenue area of the city. He was arrested nearby and charged with assault with a weapon as well as two municipal bylaw infractions related to behavior in parks.
However, four days later, there was another antisemitic incident involving Park, this time in the Yonge Street and Elm Street area. Again, Park displayed a drawing of a swastika on his chest and was heard yelling antisemitic slurs at three Jewish women.
When a man who witnessed the outrage confronted Park about his antisemitic language, he was punched multiple times.
On that occasion, Park was arrested not far from the scene and charged with one count of assault.
Following the news of Park’s latest arrest, the head of Canada’s main Jewish organization combating antisemitism urged an end to the “revolving door” bail system.
“Stronger judicial measures are needed to keep the Jewish community safe, especially during the High Holidays,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, in a statement. “We thank Toronto Police for their diligence in re-apprehending the accused, but the revolving door bail system must end.”
Mostyn added that there was “a strong public interest in denying bail to someone who repeatedly engages in unprovoked hate-motivated assaults.”
According to B’nai Brith Canada, Toronto’s Jews were the most targeted group for hate crimes in the city during the last year, accounting for 34% of the total number of offenses.