Hamilton

Hate crime incidents down, but increasing against black and Jewish Hamiltonians

Hate-related criminal activity decreased in Hamilton last year, but police stats show there were more incidents directed at people who were black or Jewish.

2 crimes - one assault with a weapon, one sexual assault - targeted people who are LGBTQ

Hate crimes in Hamilton remained steady over two years, but the number of hate-related incidents decreased. (Hamilton Police Service)

Hate-related criminal activity decreased in Hamilton last year, but police stats show there were more incidents directed at people who were black or Jewish.

A Hamilton Police Service report says there were five hate crimes in 2018, the same as in 2017. One was assault, two were assault with a weapon, one was dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and one was sexual assault.

But the number of hate/bias incidents reported to police went down from 2017 to 2018. A hate/bias incident is when there are overtones, but police can't prove the person who did it was motivated by prejudice and can't formally label it a hate crime.

There were 125 of those in 2018, down from 136 in 2017. That's an eight per cent decrease.

Notable in the stats: a 25 per cent increase in the number of Jewish people targeted. There were 30 in 2018 compared to 24 in 2017. Attacks on Muslims, meanwhile, decreased by one incident, from 15 to 14.

Hate incidents against Jewish people have increased steadily since 2015.

There was also a 2.5 per cent increase in incidents — 40 in total — targeting people who are black.

Sexual orientation was involved in 18 incidents and two of the five crimes, namely one assault with a weapon and one sexual assault.

Police say these numbers are likely higher, since not all incidents are reported.

Some other numbers from the report:

  • There were 58 events related to racial bias, of which 23 were graffiti. Most graffiti was on streets, city parks, near schools and other public areas.
  • People who are black were targeted in 41 events in 2018. The Jewish community was targeted in 30 events. In 18 events, LGBTQ people were targeted. In 11 cases, it was people who identified as gay. In four cases, the victim was transgender, and in three cases, mistaken as transgender.
  • Jewish people were targeted in 30 cases, followed by Muslims in 14 cases and Protestant in three cases.

Statistics Canada data released last year showed that in 2017, the Hamilton census metropolitan area (which includes Grimsby and Burlington) was the one of the highest in Canada for hate incidents, second to Thunder Bay.

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