Black, Jewish and LGBTQ people targeted most in Hamilton hate crimes: police

The service said in a report there were eight hate crimes (like assault) and 72 hate incidents (like racist graffiti).

Police see decrease in hate crimes but acknowledge not everyone comes forward with incidents

Hamilton police released data on hate crimes and incidents in 2020. Black and Jewish people were the target of almost all of the incidents. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton police say almost all reported local hate crimes and incidents last year targeted Black, Jewish and LGBTQ people.

The service said in a report there were eight hate crimes (like assault) and 72 hate incidents (like racist graffiti).

Of those, 44 involved racial bias, 31 involved religion, two involved sexual orientation and three involved gender identity.

Last March, police also launched an online hate and bias reporting tool.

The service said it received 108 reports between March and December. Twenty-two of them met the criteria for hate and bias.

Hamilton police show Black people were the targets of almost all of the reported racial bias incidents in 2020. (Hamilton Police Services)

While police noted a decrease in overall incidents, Acting Det. Fabiano Mendes acknowledged during the police services board meeting on Friday not all incidents are reported.

Pat Mandy, a member of the police services board, pointed out there were no cases of hate crimes and incidents toward Indigenous people.

"I don't anticipate there will ever be a lot of reports because within that community," she said.

"Unless it's done ... through a relationship with a trusted person within the group."

Mendes agreed with Mandy.

Other groups targeted in 2020 according to the report:

  • East and South East Asian people (two incidents).
  • South Asian people (four incidents).
  • White people (one incident).
  • Arab and West Asian people (four incidents).
  • Muslim people (one incident).

East Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson (Ward 6) said the city has had a "stain" from previous racist graffiti and vandalism. He also brought up violence at a recent Pride festival.

"Do we have our intelligence prepared so that hopefully we can be prepared, God forbid, that if someone wishes to do any harm on an individual or even on a collective basis ... to prevent it, get ahead on it, and stop it?" he asked.

Mendes assured Jackson the service is prepared to fight extremism and is trying to identify new trends.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.