Vancouver police seek info on 2 seemingly random assaults on East Asian women
Police say hate crime investigators are looking into separate downtown assaults this week
Vancouver police are investigating two allegedly unprovoked assaults on East Asian women in the city's downtown.
The assaults happened Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, the Vancouver Police Department said in a statement.
"Our hate crime investigators are engaged and assisting with both investigations," said spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin.
"The investigations are still in the early stages but we are not ruling out any motives, including if there was a bias, prejudice or hate element to the assaults."
In Wednesday's incident, police said, a woman was walking on Granville Street near Helmcken Street at 4:30 p.m. PT.
An unknown man punched her in the nose and she fell to the ground. She escaped to safety and called the police.
Police described the suspect in this assault as a white man, 20-30 years old, six feet tall with a thin build and short hair. He was wearing a red T-shirt with yellow stripes, dark pants and sneakers.
The victim in Thursday's incident was a woman walking to an Evo car near West Georgia Street and Citadel Parkade, police said.
They said an unknown man spat on her as he walked past her. He walked away and officers could not find him.
He is described as five feet five inches or five feet six inches tall, with dark brown, shoulder-length hair. He was wearing dark, baggy clothing.
- OpinionCOVID-19 has put a harsh spotlight on the anti-Asian racism that has always existed in Canada
Police said the assaults seem random with no connection between the suspects and victims.
They are asking anyone who witnessed the assaults or has information to call 911 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.
Vancouver police have noted that 2020 has seen a disturbing rise in the number of hate-associated reports.
Complaints dealing specifically with anti-Asian racism have spiked from seven in 2019 to 66 in the first six months of this year.
In July, the VPD created a six-member task force in response to the increase in hate crimes that have been reported since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.