Did Far-Right Internet Chatter Inspire An Arson Attack on Refugees in Toronto?
By Robert Evans
On October 12, a lone arsonist entered the Radisson Hotel Toronto East and ignited a can of gasoline. It was left burning in a hallway on the third floor, but was found by an employee and kicked down a stairwell before the fire could spread very far. The arson attempt terrified the 577 refugees and asylum-seekers housed at the Radisson by the Canadian government.
Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services, told City News that “white nationalists” had gathered outside the hotel earlier on the day of the fire.
The Toronto Police have not yet found any particular motivation behind the crime. Media Relations Officer Caroline de Cloet told Bellingcat that the department had “no reason” to believe the arson attempt was linked to anti-refugee sentiment. “We don’t speculate on our investigations,” she added.
This has not stopped many others from speculating that the arson attempt was the end result of what The Star dubbed an “online anti-refugee campaign.” Reporting on this campaign has tended to focus on a single 5 minute 51 second video entitled “Trudeau’s Refugee Hotel Exposed.”
The video was uploaded by ProperGander TV, a small far-right channel dedicated to “promoting Nationalism.” In it four young Canadians wander around the Radisson’s mostly empty and quiet halls, pointing out stains on the walls and alleging that such stains come from feces. They repeatedly claim the smell in the building is unbearable. Despite this, an unedited video of their trip reveals they spent more than thirty-four minutes inside. At one point they approach a garbage can and sniff it and then begin to retch and cough as if moved to nausea.
Since the five minute version of the video received more than 200,000 views, some …read more