Members of Montreal’s Asian community are concerned they’ve become targeted amid the COVID-19 outbreak, because of several acts of vandalism against community symbols.
During the last week of February, merchants in Chinatown noticed that lion statues at the entrance to the neighbourhood were spray-painted in different colours.
The graffiti has since been cleaned off, but other acts of vandalism also have people worried.
Authorities at the at the Quan Am Buddist temple on de Courtra Avenue in Côte-des-Neiges claim that a security camera caught someone attacking statues at the location. The date stamp on the video says Feb. 2, 2020.
“There’s a vandal who came in with a sledgehammer and started hitting the statues,” temple volunteer Loui Le explained.
He said many of the religious monuments in front of the building were smashed, items that he said can cost thousands of dollars to import. To make matters worse, the temple was attacked a second time weeks later, along with other Buddhist places of worship.
One of them was the Centre Socio-culturel Bouddhique Huyen Khong on Chambord Street.
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Le has a theory why the vandalism is happening.
“The thought that the coronavirus, the massive coronavirus is associated with Asian people,” he said.
“Definitely. I think there’s a little bit of … I don’t want to call it racism or whatever, but it’s just a little ignorance,” he said.
Le said his concern now is that the violence could move beyond property and be levelled against people.
“Well, for me, I’m not scared, but for my family? Yeah, for sure,” Le said.
Montreal police say that the incidents are being investigated as hate crimes. Until the case is solved, Le said he offered to spend more time at the Quan Am temple to help make sure this doesn’t happen again.