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New campaign urges Richmond, B.C. residents to report racism to police in real time

Click to play video: 'Richmond campaign urges witnesses to racist incidents to report them in real-time' Richmond campaign urges witnesses to racist incidents to report them in real-time
WATCH: A new campaign in Richmond is asking witnesses to racist incidents to use their phones to call police, instead of hitting record. It comes after a string of events were made public on social media without being reported, meaning officers found out about them at the same time as the public. Emad Agahi reports – Aug 23, 2022

A new campaign is encouraging residents of Richmond, B.C., to report incidents of hatred and racism directly to police in real time.

While a person’s instinct may be to film an interaction and post it on social media, RCMP are calling on the public to report racially motivated incidents as they occur.

“All too often we are learning of hate-motivated incidents through second-hand reports in the news and on social media,” Chief Supt. Dave Chauhan said in a news release.

“But in order for our investigators to give these allegations the fulsome attention they deserve, we need to speak directly to victims and witnesses.”

Read more: ‘You’re in Canada now’ — B.C. man berates women for not speaking English

The campaign, launched in partnership with the City of Richmond, comes less than two weeks after a TikTok video of a man berating a woman for not speaking English went viral.

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In that Aug. 11 incident at a Richmond SkyTrain station, caught on camera by Donna Damaso, a group of women were speaking to each other in Chinese when a stranger approached them and said, “You’re in Canada now.”

Damaso can be heard in the video calling him a “racist.” The man identified himself as a lawyer, and said to her, “Why do we have to bend over backwards? If you move to Japan you learn Japanese because you live in Japan.”

Click to play video: '‘You’re in Canada’: Man in Richmond berates women for not speaking English' ‘You’re in Canada’: Man in Richmond berates women for not speaking English
‘You’re in Canada’: Man in Richmond berates women for not speaking English – Aug 15, 2022

Some incidents — including a racist, homophobic or “other abhorrent comment” — may not meet the definition of a hate crime under the Criminal Code, but police said there’s still value in reporting them.

In the release, RCMP said they would still investigate such complaints and engage appropriate community partners if needed, as “this type of behaviour has a negative effect on our community.” The campaign is called “Hate Has No Place.”

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“Racial and discriminatory action have no place in Richmond nor in our society, and they will not be tolerated,” Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said in the statement.

“I urge residents to stand together to address and condemn all forms of discrimination and racism. If you experience or witness a hate incident, do not hesitate to contact the RCMP.”

Read more: B.C. becomes first in North America to introduce Anti-Racism Data Act

As part of the campaign, posts encouraging victims and witnesses to report incidents of hatred and racism to police will appear across Richmond, in libraries, community centres and more.

Steveston-Richmond East MP Parm Bains echoed the campaign’s calls after receiving several disturbing reports from community members and reviewing footage published by the press and on social media.

“It has come to my attention that a resident of Richmond has been verbally abusing community members of Asian descent in public spaces,” he wrote in a Tuesday statement.

“Upon reviewing the videos, it became clear that the individual corresponded with my office in the past. We took action by assembling the history of our correspondence with this person and provided it to the RCMP.”

Bains encouraged others to do the same, adding that he “will not tolerate discrimination or race-based hatred of any kind in my city.”

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