• By: Allen Brown

Ottawa Redblacks Suspend Chris Larsen due to Alleged Hate Crime

Chris Larsen, a member of Redblacks since 2019, may have been involved in a shocking hate crime. The police are looking into an alleged homophobic attack that happened on the Toronto Islands on June 5. The defensive lineman has been suspended.

The incident caused a stir on social media and even the mayor of Toronto has expressed condemnation. Here is an overview of what has come to light so far. Sports fans who play here are following the situation closely. So, what actually happened that Saturday night?

Description of the Incident

Chris Larsen may have been involved in an assault of a man. The information first appeared on social media and was shared by the victim. It described the crime supposedly committed by Larsen and a group of individuals.

The incident happened on June 5 close to midnight. The victim, David Gomez, was on his way home with a friend. They were walking from Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island, and their paths with the assailants crossed. This was when they found themselves in danger.

The individuals began to shout at the victims using anti-gay slurs, according to their own comments. Eventually, 24-year-old Gomez sustained multiple injuries. According to his Facebook post, he was knocked unconscious and almost beaten to death. The injuries include:

  • a broken tooth,
  • a broken nose,
  • fractured facial bones, and
  • a minor fracture on his right hip.

During the attack, his friend, a 27-year-old woman, was grabbed by a woman from the group. According to the police, she was held while the other individuals (two males) were assaulting Gomez — punching and kicking him. On June 9, police announced they were looking for three suspects.

Reaction to the Allegations

The OSEG, the CFL, and even the mayor of Toronto have commented on the incident. All of them have condemned the hate crime and underscored commitments to the eradication of homophobia. Clearly, this is a high-profile case.

What Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group Says

Mark Goudie, CEO of the Redblacks’ parent company Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, has issued a statement acknowledging “the trauma caused to the 2SLGBTQ+ community”. The suspension followed quickly after the allegations first surfaced.

The group opened its own investigation instantly, and it is now ongoing. According to Goudie, he has also been informed of an investigation by the Toronto Police. He does have all the details of the attack, but states that “the Redblacks and OSEG are proud of the role that we play in our community, and we are committed to continuing to build an organization, both on and off the field, that reflects the values of our community.”

The CEO underscored the importance of inclusion and diversity for the organization. He noted the staff are doing their best to stop hate and violence, including homophobia. OSEG recognizes that such “system issues” are pervasive in society and knows that it can “play a role in making our community a more tolerant, respectful, educated and inclusive place.”

What Canada Football League Says

Meanwhile, the CFL has also reacted publicly. The League has posted a statement on social media. It acknowledges that it is aware of the allegations against Larson and takes them seriously. The message highlights the values of the CFL — condemnation of homophobia, hate and violence, as opposed to “inclusivity and diversity” which it supports.

Comments from the Mayor

John Tory also commented on the incident, saying he is disturbed by the airport. Toronto Mayor has noted that there is no place for homophobia in the city. Any violence motivated by hate, including the use of anti-gay words, is “unacceptable”.

The Investigation Is Underway

OSEG has stated it will not be commenting further while the investigation is in progress. Larsen, 25, was drafted by CFL in 2019.  However, he has not yet appeared in any games with the team.

The player refuses to comment on the situation, but no charges have been laid so far. The police have not confirmed if Larson is one of the suspects it is looking for. A GoFundMe page has been launched to collect money for the victim’s treatment. So far, over $40,000 has been raised for Gomez’s recovery.