More hateful encounters as Metro Vancouver cities warn of rising anti-Asian hate crimes
COQUITLAM, B.C. -- It was supposed to be a peaceful end to a busy day. On Thursday evening, Gina Chong and her friend were strolling along Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam.
A stranger asked them to take a photo of her using her phone. Citing COVID-19 concerns, the pair declined. Chong says that’s when the woman went on a racist tirade.
“We heard from her, ‘This COVID came from you guys. Go back to China. It came from your country,’” Chong told CTV News Vancouver.
Chong, who was born and raised in Canada, pulled out her cell phone and began recording the woman, who is seen on video berating the pair. Chong says her first reaction isn’t normally to record a negative encounter, but the pandemic has her on edge.
“With so much increase of Asian hate that’s happening, I wanted to document that and show people what’s happening,” she said.
On that same day, Katharina Huang was shopping at a Safeway in North Burnaby when she had an encounter with a customer in an aisle that she describes as a hate crime.
“He all of a sudden started this football posture, like he was hunching and running towards me, like he was trying to tackle me,” Huang said.
She says the man didn’t say a word to her at any point, but believes she knows what he was trying to say with his actions.
“He didn’t have to say anything,” she said. “It was quite clear. I was the only small Asian woman alone in the store.”
Huang dodged the man’s tackle and alerted store management. She also filed a police report. Safeway has turned over surveillance footage of the encounter to police, but it has not been made public at this time.
Burnaby RCMP say they have noticed a significant increase in hate crimes in that city. Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 350 per cent since 2019.
“I worry about my kids. I worry about the elderly in the community. I don’t feel safe anymore,” says Huang.
Her teenage daughter Tiffani Liang says the rise in Anti-Asian sentiment has her looking over her shoulder.
“I have to ask people to watch me go places, to walk me to the door,” Liang said. “It makes me feel kind of helpless, like I can’t do things by myself. And that’s not right.”
Liang says she’s angry that her mom’s been directly affected by alleged anti-Asian hate.
“I hope he doesn’t do this to anyone else,” she said. “I hope he finds happiness and can just leave people alone.”
Meanwhile, police in Delta say they've also noticed more reports of hate crimes in their city. Officers said from March 29 to April 10 alone, 10 suspected hate-crime incidents were reported to police.
"In all of 2020, Delta police recorded 12 instances of suspected hate crimes," said Delta Police Department deputy chief Harj Sidhu in a news release.
"This year, we have seen 15 incidents of hate crime from January through to mid-April."
In that city, however, it doesn't appear hate crimes specifically targeting Asian people are increasing. Police say of the 10 most recent incidents, racial slurs and anti-Semitic graffiti were the most common behaviours.
Back at Lafarge Lake, the woman eventually left Chong and her friend alone. At one point, a bystander got involved, telling the woman to stop being racist. While it was heartwarming for Chong to see a stranger take her side, she was disappointed to see so many bystanders in the busy park do nothing to help.
“There were a lot of people around watching the situation,” Chong said. “It was only one person who spoke up. I would hope in the future there would be more people who speak out.”
Chong believes anti-Asian hate can only be eliminated if the entire community takes action against it.