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VPD report a 625% increase in anti-Asian crime investigations this year

"In addition to the assaults that have been reported, the hateful graffiti on landmarks with cultural significance in Chinatown is hurtful and disturbing."
Photo: Police tape / Getty Images

Vancouver police announce a further increase in anti-Asian hate crime and hate-related incidents in Vancouver.

To date this year alone, police say they've opened 29 investigative files for anti-Asian crime. During the same period in 2019, there were four. 

"Police raised this as an issue several weeks ago, to increase public awareness. However, I'm quite concerned about the continued increase in the number of crimes and incidents in our city," says Howard Chow, Deputy Chief Constable, Operations, VPD.

"In addition to the assaults that have been reported, the hateful graffiti on landmarks with cultural significance in Chinatown is hurtful and disturbing."

To date in 2020, VPD say they have identified 77 hate-associated police files. This is an increase from the 51 files identified at the same time in 2019. 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.

"Our detectives are continuing to prioritize the hate-related crimes that have been reported to us," says Laurence Rankin, Deputy Chief Constable, Investigations, VPD. "Investigations are complex, and can take some time. We want to ensure we work to achieve successful outcomes in each investigation and appreciate the community's patience and support."

The VPD has initiated several measures to combat the increase, including 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.

Earlier this week, Vandals defaced both lions at the foot of the Millennium Gate in Vancouver's Chinatown with racist graffiti.

Premier John Horgan released a statement regarding a surge in racist activity across British Columbia during the COVID-19 pandemic on Victoria Day.

Horgan remarks that, “Everyone has a right to live without fear of violence or discrimination. Yet we are hearing disturbing stories of a rise in anti-Asian racist behaviour since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Horgan adds that people are being targeted as they go about their daily lives, and that the behaviour is unacceptable. 

The statement came after Vancouver Police responded to a racist assault in East Vancouver on Friday night. According to the victim, a man punched her in the face and shouted a slew of racial insults after she sneezed. He also told her to, "Go back to Asia." The victim is Indigenous.

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs shared a post on Twitter condemning the racist assault and calling on government to step up its efforts to prevent further violence. 

Since hate crime is often under-reported, police are also working to reduce barriers that may exist for reporting. For example, the VPD is developing a system that will allow victims to report non-emergency incidents in Chinese.

Police are asking residents to report suspicious activity by calling 9-1-1.