Hate crimes on the rise

A total of 203 suspected hate crimes – the majority targeting Jewish, gay and lesbian communities – were reported to Vancouver police between 2014 and 2017.

Data released by the VPD under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act showed that 92 cases were related to race or ethnicity, 62 involved religion and 43 concerned sexual orientation.

Jewish people or property was identified in 32 cases, followed by 31 reports connected specifically to lesbian and gay communities and 28 in the Black community.

The majority of the 203 cases, which were reported by police to Statistics Canada as “suspected or actual hate crimes,” were related to what police classified as mischief (91 files) and assaults (61).

The data did not break down the nature of the mischief, although police say graffiti, etching on vehicles and property damage such as broken windows at places of worship have been investigated.

Assault with a weapon, harassment and uttering threats were some of the other offences identified by police in the data, which was posted May 31 to the VPD’s website.

The data shows Vancouver police saw reports of hate crimes increase from 46 in 2016 to 74 in 2017. Police said the 2018 data will also show an increase when statistics are released in the next few months.

So far this year, the number of reports has “stabilized, if not gone down a bit,” said Sgt. Valerie Spicer of the VPD’s Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenous Relations Unit.

“What we see is not unique to Vancouver,” Spicer told the Courier.

“It’s actually occurring across the country, and in other countries around the world with nationalist-type movements. There appears to be more expression of hatred. We see this both online and in public. So we really want to keep a close eye on this.”

Rabbi Dan Moskovitz of Temple Shalom says the most recent report by B’nai Brith Canada showed significant increases in anti-Semitic incidents in B.C., increasing from 165 in 2017 to 374 last year.

A total of 2,073 hate crimes were reported across the country in 2017. That was up 47 per cent over the previous year, according to Statistics Canada.

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