“After our investigation, we targeted a home on Monsolet street, and at 1 am we conducted a search that led to the arrest of a 24-year-old-man,” said SPVM spokesperson André Leclair.
Jesse Pelletier has been charged with uttering death threats against the Arab community; inciting hatred; provoking fear within the Arab community by perpetrating a hoax regarding terrorist activity, and possession of a fake weapon.
The criminal code lists the hoax charge as an offence that intends to “cause any person to fear death, bodily harm” and conveys information that is likely to “cause a reasonable apprehension that terrorist activity is occurring or will occur, without believing the information to be true.”
In the video, a man wears a Joker mask and says that he and a group of 10 others will set out to kill Arabs across the province. The man — whose YouTube username was listed as Jack Napier, the Joker’s actual name — also waves a pistol at the camera, which Leclair confirms was a fake. “It was a toy, a compressed-air gun,” he told VICE News.
The post was noticed and flagged to police early Tuesday morning, and it took authorities less than 24 hours to make an arrest.
Imam Adil Charkaoui, whose group Quebec collective against Islamophobia (CQCI) had reported the video to both Montreal and provincial police, said the arrest is “great news.”
Related: Man in Joker Mask Vows to Kill ‘One Arab a Week’ Across Quebec
He said he’s been told the man suffers from a physical disability, and is the father of a young child. In the video, a baby can be heard crying in the background.
Charkaoui said the clip had created a climate of fear among the city’s Muslim population, and that he had even received a panicked phone call from his own mother. “[She] was waiting for the bus when two other Muslim women approached her and told her not to stay there, that it wasn’t safe, that a man was out trying to kill Arabs and Muslims.”
“People have now been reassured,” he said.
Charkaoui said his group attributes this type of incident to a climate of fear that’s been exacerbated by some media outlets. “There are some commentators, some trash radio hosts that are scaring the population,” he said. “When they talk about the refugees who are coming here, for instance, they lead people to believe that terrorists will be hiding among them.”
Muslim communities across Canada have been shaken by a spate of Islamophobic attacks that have taken place since the Paris attacks last Friday.
At Darul Khair Islamic Centre — the same Toronto mosque attended by a Muslim woman who was viciously attacked while picking up her son at school — teenage girls have been warned not to walk to Islamic school alone at night or to jaywalk. The Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton, also in Ontario, is urging people who sport beards, prayer caps or hijabs to walk in groups.
Meanwhile, the group Muslims of Calgary has established a volunteer community service initiative called “Your Muslim Neighbor.”
“An activity as simple as shoveling your neighbor’s sidewalk can have a huge impact to neutralize the negative media publicity and stereotyping,” says their Facebook page.