A Toronto woman says she was shaken and in tears after a woman directed racist slurs at her and scribbled the N-word on the subway Friday.
Dionne Samantha Callaghan says she sat down on the subway on her way home from working at a hospital, when a woman with a child started pointing at her and ranting, saying the N-word.
Callaghan said she chose to ignore the woman, keeping her headphones in and looking down. While she couldn’t hear the woman, Callaghan says, “I could see the N-word being thrown at my face.”
At one point, Callaghan said the woman took the child’s marker and wrote a phrase, which includes a misspelled version of the N-word, while pointing at her.
Callaghan says she took a picture of the woman who pointed at her as well as the written message before leaving the train with her child.
“It shook me to my core. I was in tears,” Callaghan said in an interview with CBC News. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
Toronto Police are investigating the incident and speaking with witnesses.
The graffiti was first reported inside a Line 2 train at Broadview Station late Friday afternoon, said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green.
A <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TTC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TTC</a> Line 2 train was vandalized with vile anti-Black racist graffiti in a clear hate crime today. Train was taken out of service when it was found. No cams on this car but we have witnesses and suspect descriptions that will be fully investigated because <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackLivesMattter?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BlackLivesMattter</a>
The train was immediately taken out of service after it was tracked down at Kipling Station about an hour later, he said.
It’s “terrifying” that people had to see that inside the subway, said Green.
“We would certainly consider this a hate crime.”
‘Awful and deplorable’: TTC spokesperson
Toronto Police say they received two witness calls yesterday evening about the subway car incident.
Green said the TTC will work with police to find the person and have them charged. The TTC took a report from an eyewitness describing the offender.
“Right now there’s a a lot of heightened awareness about race relations and anti-Black racism in particular,” Green said.
“To have this happen now or anytime frankly is really just awful and deplorable.”
Callaghan says she’s been surrounded by love and support by friends and strangers since the incident.
This is the first overt act of racism she’s experienced, Callaghan said, but it doesn’t make her feel less safe in her city.
Green said this kind of vandalism is “thankfully quite rare on the TTC.”
WATCH | Callaghan describes racist attack on Toronto subway
‘We still have a lot of work to do’: Mayor Tory
Toronto Mayor John Tory said the incident is an example of why the city needs to fight back on anti-Black racism, calling it unacceptable and saying “we have to redouble our efforts” at achieving change.
“Systemic racism and racism generally are still here. We pride ourselves on being better than the rest of the world, but better doesn’t mean good enough,” he said, noting the experiences faced by Black and Indigenous communities.
“We still have a lot of work to do here in terms of policing, in terms of the advancement of people in their places of employment, in terms of how people are treated when they do ordinary things like go for a walk in the park or go shopping.”
Tory said “most Torontonians wouldn’t dream” of doing something like this, adding that the people who do need to be dealt with.