A normal stop at the local supermarket turned into a violent verbal altercation for an Asian Montrealer Monday.
Ken Mak recorded on video an unidentified woman berating him and his girlfriend with swear words and insults, he says.
“At first I thought she wanted information but it turns out she just wanted to relieve her hate speech on me because I am Chinese,” Mak said.
Mak says the lady approached him asking if he was of Chinese origin.
She then proceeded to ask questions about the COVID-19 virus and that’s when Mak says things took an aggressive turn.
The woman can be seen frequently removing her mask and heard hurling anti-Asian racist rhetoric, blaming the Asian community for the ongoing pandemic and lockdown measures.
“The Chinese people – those f—ing who did all of this. The f—ing epidemic that became a pandemic. It’s because of you Chinese people,” she can be heard saying in the video.
“She completely lost it and began to spew her monologue,” Mak said.
Mak, 33, says he has been living in Canada for the last 20 years and has never been a victim of this type of hate speech.
“I have to ask myself ‘is this happening?’ This is Canada. This is not the Canada I lived in for the last 20 years. It’s not Canadian values,” Mak said.
The altercation was broken up by supermarket employees – they can be seen in the video footage asking the woman to leave the premises and escorting her towards the door.
While police officers were called to intervene, Mak says he will not be pressing charges or filing an official police report.
“I didn’t suffer any monetary damages and I think battling anti-Asian hate is more important than targeting a single individual – that’s not the goal for me,” Mak said.
“It’s like Groundhog Day, here we go again,” said Winston Chan, board member of the Montreal chapter of the National Coalition of Canadians Against Anti-Asian Racism.
Chan says the incident is just one of many in the past two years since the pandemic began.
According to SPVM police, Montreal’s Asian community has witnessed an increase in hate crimes since 2020.
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.”
“The anti-Asian sentiment is happening. We need to put it into statistics, we need the data,” Chan said.
Mak’s video has also sparked reaction from political officials.
Both Montreal mayor Valerie Plante and Quebec’s Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Racism, Benoit Charette have condemned the woman’s outburst.
“Desolate, shocking and condemnable! Behavior like this simply has no place in Quebec,” Charette said.
While encouraged by the politicians’ response, advocates say words are not enough to stop the heinous acts.
“Besides just calling out this problem, it’s important that the government takes action to fight anti-Asian racism,” Chan said.
Mak says he is thankful for the support and actions of the people in the store, those who stood up for him demanding the woman stop.
“That is respect, that is real Canadian values. That’s the Canada I know,” Mak said.