While the concern was raised as an issue several weeks ago, Vancouver police once again expressed their concern on Friday around a further increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and hate-related incidents in the city.
“I’m quite concerned about the continued increase in the number of crimes and incidents in our city,” said VPD Deputy Chief Howard Chow during a press conference. “In addition to the assaults that have been reported, the hateful graffiti on landmarks with cultural significance in Chinatown is hurtful and disturbing.”
Adding that he’s “saddened, disturbed, and disappointed,” by the increasing trend, Chow said that since the beginning of March, police have opened 29 investigative files for anti-Asian crime. By comparison, there were four during the same time period in 2019, ” so that’s an eight-fold increase that we’re looking at.”
To date in 2020, Chow said the VPD has identified 77 hate-associated police files.
“This is up from 51 at the same time in 2019,” he said. “And this increase is driven largely by anti-Asian incidents.”
In addition, “there are 10 active files from April and May that police are currently investigating that could potentially be classified as hate-related upon further investigation,” he said.
Chow said what has been “particularly hurtful is the vandalism we’ve seen to landmarks in Chinatown.”
He noted that “Vancouver’s historic Chinatown was established over 100 years ago in the 1800s. It’s an area that truly helps define our city, and it’s especially upsetting to see this crime occurring an an area with such cultural significance.”
Chow also pointed out that “half of our residents in Vancouver are culturally diverse. They’re not a minority – it’s who we are.”
Hate “is insidious,” said Chow. “Right now, it’s anti-Asian, but it spreads like a virus and impacts us all.”
Incidents like the ones that have taken place recently “cause additional fear and stress in the community during an uncertain time already,” he furthered.
Still, in light of these incidents, Chow also said he has been “encouraged and inspired to see that community, business, and government officials have all rallied together to step up and strongly condemn racist behaviours.”
VPD Deputy Chief Const. Laurence Rankin said the department’s detectives “are continuing to prioritize the hate-related crimes that have been reported to us.”
He noted that investigations like these “are complex, and can take some time.”
Rankin continued, “We want to ensure we work to achieve successful outcomes in each investigation and appreciate the community’s patience and support.”
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Chow said the VPD has initiated several measures to combat the increase in hate crime incidents.
These measures, he said, include further engagement with the Chinese community to raise awareness about how to connect with police; additional patrols on foot by police officers in Chinatown; and the placement of a public safety trailer, with cameras, in Chinatown and two other locations in the city.
“Since hate crime is often under-reported, police are also working to reduce barriers that may exist for reporting,” said Chow.
As an example, he said that the VPD is developing a system that will allow victims to report non-emergency incidents in Chinese.
And as always, police are asking residents to report suspicious activity by calling 911.