Thousands took to the streets of Montreal on Sunday to demonstrate against racism and hate crime, denouncing the stark rise in anti-Asian racism since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes after eight people, including six Asian American women, were murdered at three different Atlanta, Georgia massage parlours last week.
What happened in Atlanta is the latest incident in a series of anti-Asian violent crimes that have starkly increased since the start of the health crisis.
Here in Montreal, police say targeted acts of hate toward the Asian community have increased by at least five over the last year.
“It’s been one year now that we’ve been living through both the medical COVID crisis and the racist COVID crisis,” said May Chiu, one of Sunday’s demonstrators.
Chiu told Global News the demonstration asked that the Quebec government finally acknowledge systemic racism in the province, something Premier François Legault and his cabinet have continuously refused to do.
The protest’s organizers said they wanted the public to know that anti-Asian violent incidents happen in Montreal, too.
Montreal police say 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.
“It’s a big jump,” said police spokesperson Manuel Couture. Only six crimes were reported by Montreal’s Asian community in 2019, according to authorities.
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Couture said one-third of the incidents were related to the COVID-19 pandemic and had a racist anti-Asian sentiment.
Police say the majority of the cases, more than 40 per cent, involved vandalism and graffiti.
The Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice has tracked 931 anti-Asian racist incidents since the start of the health crisis.
In the U.S., hate crimes against Asian communities have skyrocketed by almost 150 per cent during that same time, according to an analysis of police department statistics released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSHE) earlier this month.
–with files from the Canadian Press and Brayden Jagger Haines, Global News