Hate-motivated graffiti incidents rise in Toronto, will this police tool address it?

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As the rate of hate-motivated graffiti in Toronto rises, police have launched an online tool to make it easier to report the increasingly common crime.

On Wednesday, Toronto police said they were launching an online tool to report hate-motivated graffiti in the city.

“A hate-motivated crime not only victimizes individuals, but also entire communities,” Toronto police Chief Myron Demkiw said.

“We urge Torontonians to please report these incidents to police so we can investigate and hold people to account who commit these crimes.”

Police said they had seen an increase in hate-motivated graffiti since Hamas launched an attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip on Oct 7. The attack from an organization listed by the Canadian government as a terror group sparked weeks of violence in the Middle East as the Israeli military responded.

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Those events have stayed top of mind for many Israeli and Palestinian Canadians. Demonstrations and vigils involving members of both communities have been a regular occurrence.

Toronto police said the conflict between Israel and Hamas also coincided with a rise in hate-motivated crimes. Hate-motivated graffiti has reportedly increased the most overall.

Chief Demkiw told a police services board meeting last month that since Oct. 7, there had been 14 hate crime reports — 12 relating to antisemitism and two about anti-Muslim incidents — compared to five during a similar time frame last year.

The next update on hate crime statistics is expected at the monthly police services board meeting on Nov. 23.

Police said they have launched their new online tool to make reporting hate-motivated graffiti easier.

A spokesperson told Global News the force relies on online reporting tools for other crimes, specifically those that aren’t currently taking place. Theft and fraud can both also be reported online.

“We’re hoping to continue providing online options for reporting non-emergency incidents over the next year,” the spokesperson said.

At the same time, the force has increased the size of its hate crime unit from six officers to 20, along with eight district special constables.

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— with files from The Canadian Press

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