Viral online comment ‘could be construed as a hate crime’, Terrace RCMP investigating

A screenshot of the comment, which is derogatory towards First Nations, has been shared thousands of times on social media

Terrace RCMP are investigating an online comment that is being called “a hate crime” by many who have read it.

The comment, which makes derogatory comments about First Nations, appeared briefly through a posting by a Facebook user called Howie Boake to an online Terrace Standard article Jan. 27 before it was removed by blocking software.

Before the comment was blocked, however, a screenshot of the comment was captured and that image has been shared widely on social media.

“As you can imagine, a statement like this on social media garners a lot of attention and we have had numerous reports,” said Const. Angela Rabut of the Terrace RCMP detachment.

She said the detachment has received about half a dozen reports on the comment – some through other detachments, like the Surrey office, which fielded a report from a person in Saskatchewan.

“Social media really shrinks the world,” she said.

The comment “is so low it deserves no response,” Rabut added, but instead it has spread and bred more negativity “like a bad virus.”

Rabut could not confirm if police had spoken with the poster, pointing to the active investigation, but did say a fair amount of staff time was being spent following up on the online comments.

“Anything to do with social media usually takes up a fair amount of time because there’s lots of comments made, people make comments very easily online and we do need to follow up,” Rabut said.

More than 100 people have commented on a separate comment publicly visible on the Facebook page registered to Boake which posted the original comment, with many constituting the screenshot comment from Jan. 27 was a hate crime.

“In reading those comments it could be construed as a hate crime,” said Rabut of the Jan. 27 comment. “But as the investigation unfolds we’ll make those decisions.

“Our number one priority is public safety, so that’s the biggest thing we’re going to be looking at here, to ensure that the public is safe, and then going from there,” she said, noting that that includes the safety of the poster, who has had a number of threatening comments directed his way online.