British Columbia

VPD sees eightfold increase in hate-crime investigations since March compared to same time last year

Earlier this week, the lions at the Millennium Gate in Chinatown were defaced with anti-Chinese graffiti in just one of many incidents over the past two months.

Rise in racist attacks associated with COVID-19 pandemic says Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow

Graffiti is covered up by duct tape on the lions at the Millennium Gate in Chinatown on Wednesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Vancouver police say they have opened investigations into 29 hate crimes that occurred in the months of March, April and May.

The number constitutes an almost eightfold increase compared to the same period last year.

VPD Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow says the rise is associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"In Vancouver, because of our large Asian population, we are seeing it," he said "What's particularly hurtful is the hateful vandalism to prominent landmarks in Chinatown — the Chinese Community Centre and the millennium lion." 

Chow appealed to both witnesses and victims to report racist incidents.

"Don't be silent. Stand up, support and report," he said. 

Vancouver police said a man approached a woman at a downtown bus stop and punched her in the face on April 12. (Vancouver Police Department)

According to the deputy chief constable of Investigations, the VPD has beefed up its presence in Chinatown with increased foot patrols, the installation of surveillance "safety cameras," and by parking a public safety trailer in the neighbourhood.

"Battling this disturbing trend is a top priority," said Laurence Rankin.

Chinese Cultural Centre board chair Fred Kwok reads the hateful graffiti written on windows at the centre in Vancouver on Friday, May 1, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Queenie Choo, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S, encouraged people in the Asian community to report racists acts to police. 

"We call on all communities to stand in solidarity against all racist behaviour," said Choo.

Police say hate crimes are generally underreported. The VPD says it IS looking at ways of reducing barriers to reporting, including developing a system where victims can report non-emergency incidents in Chinese.  

Recent racist attacks in Vancouver include:

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

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