Grocery-store standoff charge underscores social medias power: Expert

A London man is facing charges two weeks after a race-related incident in the north end of the city went viral.

While London police said race-related comments were made during the altercation between two men at the Sobeys at 1595 Adelaide St. N., no hate crime charges were laid.

Torontos former chief city planner said she entered the mayoral race because the city needs leadership, citing the current mayors response to the provinces decision to slash the size of city council almost in half.

ILLEGAL ALIEN: Man charged in London, Ont. store standoff

The incident was reviewed by the London Police Service hate crime unit but ultimately police decided to charge Phillip McLaughlin, 39, with assault, forcible confinement and causing a disturbance.

Police spokeswoman Sandasha Bough says the alleged victim didnt want to press charges, but officers with the forces hate crime unit decided to continue their investigation.

READ MORE: I want to leave: London, Ont. police investigate race-related incident as possible hate crime

In it, a man appears to be physically blocking another man from leaving while speaking to someone on his cellphone and referring to that man as an "illegal alien."

The altercation, which occurred July 17, was recorded on video and posted on social media and quickly went viral. In the video, a man in a black hoodie can be seen trying to leave the grocery store, but another man wearing a red shirt forcibly blocked his path.

LONDON, Ont. — A man has been charged with forcible confinement and assault following what police describe as an incident involving "race-related comments."

The man in the red shirt is reported to have called the man in the black hoodie an “illegal alien” but those comments weren’t captured on video.

She says 39-year-old Phillip McLaughlin of London has been charged with assault, forcible confinement and causing a disturbance.

Police say an argument occurred inside the store between the two men before they arrived on the scene. The second interaction was caught on video.

The exchange was captured on camera and the video was posted on social media, where it has since garnered two million views.

London police Chief John Pare previously told 980 CFPL’s Craig Needles the man in the black hoodie doesn’t want police to pursue charges.

“It’s quite clear from the investigation thus far that there’s a criminal element to this that’s motivated by hate,” explained Pare, adding they’d respect the victim’s request.

Police in London, Ont., say on July 17, a man was in a grocery store and tried to stop another man from leaving.

Police originally gave the man in the red T-shirt a warning for assault but didn’t lay charges. They haven’t explained why they’ve decided to press charges now.

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Investigators say McLaughlin turned himself in to police headquarters on Monday and was released. He is scheduled to appear in a London court on Sept. 12 in relation to the charges.

The video posted to social media was just 30 seconds long. A woman off-camera appeared to be trying to help the man in the hoodie get out of the store.

READ MORE: People feel more comfortable coming forward: London police address rise in hate crime

Then, at her encouragement, the man in the hoodie tried once again to get past the man in the red shirt but was forced back.

“I want to leave, stop assaulting me. I want to leave,” said the man in the hoodie.”

READ MORE: Racial slur on the back of a family vehicle in north London prompts police investigation

For the duration of the 30-second Facebook video, the man in the red shirt is holding a cellphone to his ear.

Pare applauded the store’s handling of the situation but is also reminding the public not to get involved in things that could escalate because it could lead to harm or injury.

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London police have laid charges against a man following a race-related incident earlier this month at a grocery store. 

Video of incident, which was recorded on cellphone, was posted on social media and has been viewed more than 2.4 million times.

"As a result of the ongoing investigation and consultation with the Crown Attorney's Office, it was determined that there is evidence to support proceeding with the following Criminal Code of Canada charges against Phillip McLaughlin, 39, of London," according to a statement from London police.

London Police had investigated the incident as a possible hate crime but there are no charges specific to that. Instead, if the incident is deemed a hate crime, it will be dealt with in sentencing. 

In the video, a man in a red T-shirt was seen preventing another man in a black hoodie from leaving the store, and calling him an "illegal alien."

"Don't touch him, why are you touching him?" a woman says off-camera, as the man in the red shirt approaches the man in the black hoodie.

"I heard him say he was an illegal immigrant and an alien. I was shocked," said Arden Keet, a witness to the incident at a north London grocery store that has since gone viral.

Keet says she was disappointed that most of the people inside the store seemed to ignore the situation.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing was actually happening in real life," she said.

Sobeys responded to the incident in an email to CBC News. A company spokesperson said staff members were appalled by the behaviour of the aggressor in the incident, the man in the red T-shirt. A manager tried asking the man to leave the store before police arrived.

"These situations are downright scary for our store teams and customers," Jennifer McCrindle, manager of external communications at Sobeys.

McLaughlin is scheduled to appear in a London court on September 12, 2018 in relation to the charges.

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