Montreal’s Asian community sees increase in targeted hate crimes, police say

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Montreal police report rise in crimes targetting Asian community
Montreal police say hate crimes toward the city's Asian community are on the rise as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into the one-year mark. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Mar 3, 2021

Hate crimes toward members of Montreal’s Asian community have seen a dramatic increase over the last year, according to Montreal police.

A total of 30 crimes targeting the Asian community were recorded in 2020 between the months of March and December.

Of those, 22 were considered “heinous crimes” and eight were recorded as “hate crimes.”

READ MORE: Montreal police increase patrols in Chinatown following string of robberies

“It’s a big jump,” said SPVM Spokesperson Manuel Couture. Only six crimes were reported by Montreal’s Asian community in 2019, according to the SPVM.

Couture said one-third of the incidents were related to COVID-19 and had a racist anti-Asian sentiment.

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The majority of the cases, more than 40 per cent, involved vandalism and graffiti, Couture said.

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READ MORE: Montreal police meet with Chinatown business owners after rash of break-ins, vandalism

“The pandemic made it more clear that racism is strongly in place in the community,” said Chan Association president Jimmy Chan.

Chan said during the height of targeted attacks in Chinatown, fear and worry were at an all-time high.

“In one single night, there were seven stores with their windows smashed in,” Chan said.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Chinatown faces second wave of vandalism, break-ins

The situation forced Chan to launch the first-ever Chinatown Security Service.

For weeks, Chan says the group of citizens patrolled the Chinatown area during the evenings.

“Almost every night, we would station in China town patrolling. It wasn’t easy but people felt secure.”

After an outcry in the community, the city of Montreal and the SPVM launched a security campaign.

Since November 2020, police have increased foot patrols and surveillance.

“We will talk to people in the street. We do door to doors, just to make sure everyone understands these acts are unacceptable,” Const. Couture said.

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Both Chan and the police say that regular reports should be made.

“People need to speak up,” Chan said.

“We have our right, our space and a right to speak.”

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