Police say the Crown has dropped the charges against four individuals in a hate-motivated mischief investigation at an Indigo bookstore in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood last year.

In an email to CTV News Toronto, police shared a statement from the Crown which said the charges were dropped in the absence of a “reasonable prospect of conviction” against four of the 11 accused.

“This decision should not be seen as a criticism of the police determination that there were reasonable grounds for the arrests of these four individuals. However, the standard for proceeding with a prosecution is properly higher and more rigorous,” the statement read.

Police charged 11 people with mischief, criminal harassment and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence in connection with the Nov. 10 vandalism at the Indigo location at Bay and Bloor streets. It’s alleged that a group of suspects glued posters to the doors and windows of the store and poured red paint on the windows and sidewalk.

Footage from CP24’s cameras at the time showed the posters displayed an image of the company’s Jewish CEO Heather Reisman alongside the words “Funding Genocide.” The bookstore chain has been targeted by protests in the past due to Reisman’s HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which offers scholarships to those without family in Israel who serve in their military.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) called it a “vile antisemitic attack.”

“Sadly, this is the tragic, new reality for Jews today in Canada and around the world which requires more than just condemnations from government leaders,” FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt said in a statement at the time.

In statements released by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and the “Jews Say No to Genocide Coalition,” the groups called for the charges against the group to be dropped and said the police’s description of the mischief as “hate-motivated” was unjustified.

“Terming these charges ‘hate motivated’ is based on false accusations that Indigo CEO Reisman was targeted for being Jewish. However, supporters of Palestinian rights have been protesting Indigo since at least 2006,” CJPME said in November.

On Wednesday, arrestees and lawyers of the self-described “Indigo-11” held a news conference to address the charges being dropped.

“I did lose all employment because of these allegations that were false and proven to be so,” Karl Gardner, one of the four accused whose charges were dropped, told reporters.

“Laying trumped up charges that allow police to bust into our homes, to drag our reputations through the mud and to brand us as hate criminals when we have not been charged with any hate crimes.”

Karl Gardner

For the police’s part, they said that the Crown’s decision to withdraw the charges should not be seen as a reflection of their validity or the credibility of the allegations.

Police added that the Crown plans to pursue the charges laid against the remaining seven suspects.