VANCOUVER -- For the second time in two weeks, vandals have scrawled racist graffiti on the Chinatown lions in Vancouver.

“This is not only an act of racism anymore, it is attacking our civil society, instilling fears, as well as disrupting our communities,” said Queenie Choo, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. BC. Her office is located right beside the lions, which are at the base of the gate into Chinatown.

“The recent behaviour has no place in our country and province,” she said.  

The City of Vancouver posted a tweet Friday showing the concrete statues with a the words "China" and "COVID-19." On May 19, the lions were vandalized with the same words.

The incident comes amid an uptick in racist incidents targeting Asian people and buildings associated with Vancouver's Chinese community. The incidents range from an increase in offensive graffiti to verbal altercations to assaults.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation of bigotry behaviour, as well as anti-Asian sentiment,” said Choo.

In its Twitter posts, the City of Vancouver said the most recent vandalism has been reported to police and work has begun to remove it. Staff also wrote that the city is looking into applying a coating on the statues that would make it easier to clean them.

Vancouver police are investigating the incident. They parked their mobile surveillance unit outside the Chinese Cultural Centre to monitor the area. That’s about a block and a half away from the lions, but police could not say whether they captured images of anyone vandalizing the lions.

“We’re going to have to start opening up CCTV more frequently so that the individuals responsible for these things are identified,” said Simon Fraser University criminology professor Rob Gordon.

He said part of the problem is finding suspects, because “they’re not organized” and the crimes happened “when lightning strikes.”

A recent study by Project 1907 looked at 128 reports of racism submitted to its online COVID-19 racism reporting form between April 23 and May 18. The incidents happened in 25 cities across Canada and the group found that 70 percent of the respondents identify as women.

“That is very high,” said Gordon. “But it’s understandable when you factor in the perceived weaknesses of the woman victim.”

Choo said those involved in these racist acts are preying on the most vulnerable in our community, including seniors and women. She’s instead asking everyone to step up.

“We are calling for actions from everyone of us in the community, in the country,” she said, to “not let that happen to anyone else.” 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Jen St. Denis

Project 1907 study