Vancouver police are investigating the city’s 11th anti-Asian hate crime since the beginning of April, this time after someone defaced several large windows at the Chinese Cultural Centre with hateful graffiti in the Downtown Eastside.
According to police, the incident happened on the afternoon of April 2, when a suspect walked into the courtyard of the cultural centre and wrote “disturbing, racist remarks towards the Asian community on four large glass windows.”
The incident was not public knowledge until Friday (May 1), when investigators released photos of the suspect in hopes the public can help identify him.
The man is described as white, with a thin build. At the time of the vandalism, he was wearing a black jacket, black pants and grey running shoes, police said. He was also wearing a black baseball cap with writing on the front and had a black and white bandana covering his nose and mouth.
“It’s disheartening to report that these types of crimes are ongoing during the pandemic,” Const. Tania Visintin said in a statement. “Our department takes crimes with such hate attached extremely seriously. We will not tolerate this in our city.”
Vancouver police have seen an increase in hate-motivated incidents targeting Asian population in recent weeks, including an aggressive attack on a elderly man with dementia. In that instance, a suspect has been identified by police. It is unclear if charges have been laid.
So far in 2020, there have been a total of 20 anti-Asian hate crimes reported to Vancouver police. In comparison, there were 12 in all of 2019.
Acts of racism related to COVID-19 with anti-Asian bias have become “disturbingly common” in cities across the country, according to results from a poll by the Chinese Canadian National Council For Social Justice released recently.
The poll, which surveyed roughly 1,100 people, found that four per cent of respondents believed that either all Chinese or Asian people carry the coronavirus, while a further 10 per cent were uncertain.
There are no statistics that suggest people of Asian ethnicity are likelier to be infected with the novel coronavirus in Canada.
As many as one in five respondents said they did not think it was safe to sit next to a person of Asian descent on a bus if either the person or they themselves were not wearing a mask.
“With results like this, it is not surprising that we are seeing a growing increase in anti-Asian racism, likely provoked by COVID-19 fears and ignorance, but no less threatening for that,” the council’s director, Susan Eng, said in a statement.
The council has called on political leaders to denounce these racist incidents and ill-informed beliefs, Eng added.