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29 anti-Asian hate crimes being investigated by Vancouver police
VANCOUVER -- More than two dozen anti-Asian hate crimes have been investigated in Vancouver recently, compared to just four in the same time period last year, local police say.
In recent weeks, Vancouver police say they've noticed an increase in hate crimes during the pandemic and 29 investigations into anti-Asian incidents have been opened since the start of the year.
"I'm saddened, disturbed and disappointed to report that despite police efforts, despite engagement with community and public concern and outrage, this trend continues in the city," Howard Chow, deputy chief constable, said Friday.
People of East Asian descent appear to be targeted specifically, Chow said.
Some of the incidents include racial slurs or assaults. For example, Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre has been repeatedly vandalized. And in March, police say a 92-year-old Asian man suffering from dementia was attacked at an East Vancouver convenience store.
Queenie Choo, CEO of SUCCESS, said the Chinese community noticed a rise in incidents once COVID-19 began to spread.
"This conduct is unwarranted. It is divisive and it is unacceptable to how we define ourselves as Canadians," she said. "It also reminds us that much work needs to be done to further community understanding."
To try to reduce these incidents, Vancouver police have implemented several measures, Chow said, including increasing contact with the Chinese community, and by increasing police presence and security cameras in Chinatown.
Moving forward, Chow said they're trying to reduce any barriers that may deter people from reporting these hate crimes.
"Hate is insidious. Right now it's anti-Asian but it spreads like a virus and impacts us all," Chow said, encouraging people who witness hate incidents to report them.
Suspects have been identified in six of the 29 investigations and are expected to be submitted to Crown counsel in the near future. One of those includes the suspect connected to the assault against the 92-year-old man in East Vancouver.
No formal charges have been laid in any of the incidents yet and 10 of the investigations have concluded because a suspect couldn't be linked to the incident.
Laurence Rankin, deputy chief constable of investigations, said these investigations are a top priority but cautioned they can take time.
"As a society we can sometimes have unrealistic expectations of how investigations unfold based on how they're portrayed on television," Rankin said.
"For example even if we have a suspect identified by the public, in a photo, police still need to build a case beyond surveillance video or stills. The video and photographs alone are not enough."
Vancouver police have been under fire for the amount of time that's lapsed between incidents and appeals to the public for the information. In at least two cases, Vancouver police waited a month or longer to ask for the public's help.
"Thirty days is way too long to hold this information. There are elderly people who could have been warned. There's a lot of hate and fear and lashing out," Barbara Lee, president of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, told CTV News Vancouver earlier this month. "The public needs to know for their own safety, for their family's safety, for their community's safety."
B.C. premier's took time to address the matter during his weekly update Wednesday.
"It is absolutely unacceptable to see this increase in people taking out their concerns, their frustrations on people of colour, people of a different religious perspective, people of a different sexual orientation," Premier John Horgan said.
"Hate has no place in British Columbia … I just can't stress enough how it's just no longer acceptable, and I'm grateful to see citizens standing up to racism when they see it."