Anti-Asian racism has spiked since COVID-19 forced B.C. into a state of emergency in March and Vancouver police say that has driven an increase in overall hate crimes.
Howard Chow, the department’s deputy chief constable for operations, says investigators have opened 29 files involving anti-Asian racism since March, compared with four over the same time period last year.
Chow says there have been 77 hate-associated police files in 2020 and another 10 active files from April and May that could later be classified as hate crimes.
Deputy Chief Const. Laurence Rankin says the alleged offences range from racial slurs and vandalism to assault.
He says suspects have been identified in six of the 29 cases, although no charges have been laid yet.
Ten of the files have concluded due to lack of evidence or suspects, but Rankin says they could be reopened in future.
Chow says the department has stepped up its engagement with the Chinese community in Vancouver to raise awareness of what constitutes a hate crime and how victims can connect with police.
He says additional officers are patrolling Chinatown and more public safety cameras have been installed.
Chow says racist incidents and hate crimes are adding to people’s stress and fear during an already uncertain time.
“Hate is insidious. Right now, it’s anti-Asian, but it spreads like a virus and impacts us all,” said Chow, urging anyone who sees racism to report it.
Chow also addressed potential offenders, saying half of Vancouver’s residents are culturally diverse.
“They’re not a minority. It’s who we are,” said Chow, who identified himself as first generation Chinese Canadian.
Premier John Horgan has also condemned racism and appealed to citizens to stand up to racist behaviour when they see it.
“Hate has no place in British Columbia. We are a strong and vibrant economy and a strong and vibrant community because of the diversity that is what makes up this great province,” he said on Wednesday.
The Canadian Press
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