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Hateful graffiti surges in Vancouver during COVID19 pandemic: cleaning company
VANCOUVER -- Graffiti is up across Vancouver during the pandemic, and graffiti involving hateful, racist messages have increased by at least five times, according to a company that cleans it up.
Goodbye Graffiti says messages targeting people of Asian descent have been on the rise as well.
“There’s definitely a lot of anti-Asian graffiti, more than there was before," said Kendra Klemke, who owns the business. "Racism has no place in our city and we’re super happy to come out and remove it."
The company said it usually gets calls for racist graffiti removal about once a week in Vancouver. That’s jumped to five times a week, Klemke said.
The company cleaned up the messages at the Chinese Cultural Centre last month — a service that they do for free, she said.
The messages used slurs, called for Chinese people to be killed and to drive them out of Canada. Police released surveillance photos in an effort to catch the suspect.
The surge in racist messages has also come with increased attacks, authorities say. Vancouver police recorded nine hate crimes against Asians in the city in 2020, compared with 12 for all of last year.
Among them was a man pushing a grandfather to the ground outside of a convenience store on Nanaimo Street.
Last week, Vancouver’s mayor and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for it to stop.
Even as graffiti is on the rise, it appears that artists tagging buildings is going down, said Goodbye Graffiti’s operations manager, James Priest.
That could be because they are following the public health instructions to stay home and stop the spread of disease, he said.
Klemke said part of the increase could be because so many businesses are boarded up. She said art that has gone up on many of those boards can deter taggers. The company also offers a protective coating that can make it easier to protect the art, she said.