The latest national crime data for 2018, released on Monday by Statistics Canada, reveals that per capita Hamilton has the highest rate of police-reported hate crimes in the country.
According to the data, 97 hate incidents were reported to Hamilton police in 2018 which equated to 17.1 hate crimes reported for every 100,000 people in the city.
The rate is more than three times the national average of 4.9 per 100,000 people out of a total 1,798 police-reported hate crimes in 2018.
READ MORE: Canada’s crime rate rose in 2018 but country still safer than a decade ago: StatCan
No. 2 on the list was Quebec City, which had 89 incidents equating to 11 reported hated crimes per 100,000 people.
Toronto, Canada’s largest city according to the last census numbers with five times the population of Hamilton, reported 6.4 hate crimes for every 100,000 people in the city.
The numbers, year over year, have declined across the board in Canada with 2,073 total police-reported hate crimes in Canada for 2017, while Hamilton saw a bump — moving to 97 from 91 in 2017.
LISTEN: Kojo Damptey from the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion talks to CHML’s Rick Zamperin about latest national crime data
After Hamilton police released their own 2018 report at the police services board in March, Det. Paul Corrigan revealed that the most frequently targeted group was the black community, accounting for 41 incidents in 2018, while the Jewish community was targeted 30 times last year, representing a 25 per cent increase.
In efforts to tackle racism, the city established the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre (HARRC) in 2018 to gather information on racism and the lived experiences of those who deal with racism.
However, that partnership, with McMaster University and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, was put on hold earlier this year “to allow the partners to review and renew plans to achieve its envisioned goals,” according to the city.
READ MORE: ‘Hate/bias’ incidents decline in Hamilton according to latest police statistics
In May, the director of talent and diversity with the city, Jodi Koch, told Global News that a lot of racism and hate incidents go unreported, so the number is likely even higher than it appears.
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“Without people reporting issues, it’s really difficult to understand the actual experience of people in Hamilton,” said Koch. “I know Hamilton police have worked over the years to try to encourage more people to come forward and report because we all believe that racism and racism-related events are traditionally underreported.”
Kojo Damptey, manager of programs at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), says “this is no surprise.
“People that have been concerned have always been saying we need an action plan to tackle these issues of hate discrimination, prejudice and what have you,” said Damptey, “So it comes to us as no surprise. This now means that we really have to take actionable items to address issues around hate.”
Damptey also believes the actual numbers in the StatsCan report, which come from Hamilton Police, may actually be higher in reality due to victims not reporting incidents.
“I’ve said that these numbers are actually lower numbers because experience has shown us that usually, folks that experience hate crimes don’t have full trust of the police,” Damptey said.
READ MORE: City looking to hear from Hamilton residents who experience racism
Damptey points to recent gatherings in front of Hamilton City Hall on Saturdays which have featured a wide array of groups including members of the LGBTQ2 community, and the Yellow Vest movement who’ve been accused of being a hate group.
He says the presence of the Yellow Vest movement is likely creating the disconnect between the city and certain communities because “they don’t feel safe walking through City Hall.”
Damptey believes it’s up to the federal government to stop such gatherings by being more resolute in enforcing hate speech laws.
“They do provide funding to address these issues around racism hate discrimination and prejudice and what have you, however, they fail to address the issue of the criminal justice system, and the legal aspects of the system to ensure that when somebody engages in hate speech or hate crimes that they can be charged for it under the current criminal code.”
— With files from Lisa Polewski and Ken Mann
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