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Richmond RCMP apologize for ‘miscommunication’ in handling of racist incident
VANCOUVER -- Richmond RCMP are apologizing to the victim of a racist encounter for what officers say was an unfortunate case of miscommunication.
The incident happened May 8 near Garry Point Park in Richmond, where Clara Kan was walking with her mother. Both women were wearing masks, a common precaution against the spread of COVID-19.
Kan said two men in a parked car started insulting her, yelling and telling her to go back to her country and also commenting on the masks she and her mother were wearing. Then, according to Kan, the two men revved their car engine as if they were going to run over Kan and her mother. They then drove away.
Kan reported the incident to police immediately, and an RCMP officer came to the park and took a statement from Kan, including the licence plate of the men's car.
That's when Kan's interpretation of events and the RCMP's differ. Kan later wrote on Facebook that she understood police would not be pursuing the matter because the car was registered in another city.
But the RCMP say that's not the case and say it's clear there was a miscommunication between police and Kan.
"The investigation has always been maintained and being conducted by the Richmond RCMP," Cpl. Adriana Peralta said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that there was a very obvious communication issue and we want to apologize to the complainant for that.
"We want to reassure the public this matter was fully investigated from the onset, racism has no place in our community. Any investigation with potential hate motivated undertones will be given our full attention and oversight."
In a press release, Richmond RCMP said an officer was dispatched "within minutes" to take a statement from Kan. When the officer asked Kan how she would like to proceed with the complaint, she said she'd like the RCMP to speak to the two men about their behaviour, according to police.
Officers then tracked down the two men, and the man who made the racist remarks wrote an apology letter to Kan, according to the RCMP.
"The complainant has maintained throughout that she does not want to proceed through formal court channels with this matter. Richmond RCMP want to make it clear that the complainant has the right to choose this as a course of action. However, we want to assure the public that despite this, we have investigated and gathered evidence to the extent that would be considered for charge assessment," Cst. Dennis Hwang wrote in the release.
In a response to her original Facebook post, Kan wrote that she was "so pleased that the RCMP was able to bring this incident to resolution.
"I would like to thank them for serving and protecting. I want to tell the men involved that I truly accept there apology and forgive them. I want to thank the public for their support. Now healing can happen! More than anything, we are desperate to feel safe in our own city," she wrote.
The incident comes amid a disturbing increase in racist incidents and hateful graffiti against Asian people in Metro Vancouver during the pandemic, including physical attacks. Many of the incidents appear to have been spurred by racist assumptions being made about COVID-19.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Emad Agahi.