Police in Vancouver are appealing to the public for help in identifying and locating a suspect who defaced several large windows at the Chinese Cultural Centre with hateful graffiti last month.
According to the Vancouver Police Department, the suspect entered the courtyard of the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside during the afternoon of April 2.
The suspect wrote what the VPD said were "racist remarks towards the Asian community" on four of the facility's large glass windows.
The early April incident at the Chinese Cultural Centre joins a growing list of anti-Asian and anti-Chinese crimes and incidents reported across Vancouver in recent weeks - the time period since the COVID-19 crisis began overseas and then locally.
Among other high-profile incidents include the assault on an elderly Asian man at a Vancouver convenience store that was caught on video, as well as a recent assault on the SkyTrain targeting a young woman. Suspects have been identified and apprehended in both those cases.
This week, Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart condemned these crimes and attacks.
“It angers me to see some people commit such hateful acts,” said Stewart.
He also mentioned reports of verbal abuse on the streets against people who appear to have Asian heritage.
“We know that hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents are generally underreported. We believe the increase in March is indicative of a larger issue,” adds Visintin. “We are making a plea to victims or people who witness hate crimes to please come forward and report the incidents to police so they can be investigated.”
Vancouver Police note that in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, they have seen an uptick in reports of "hate motivated" incidents and behaviour targeting members of the Asian community.
Eleven hate crimes were reported to police in March. Five of those reports (45 per cent) had an anti-Asian element. So far in 2020, there have been a total of nine anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police. In comparison, there were 12 in all of 2019.
“It’s disheartening to report that these types of crimes are ongoing during the pandemic,” says Constable Tania Visintin, VPD. “Our department takes crimes with such hate attached extremely seriously. We will not tolerate this in our city.”
Earlier this week, Mayor Stewart noted May is Asian heritage month.
“And this year, I ask all of us — no matter our ancestry — to take a moment to reflect how much richer our lives are for living in a city with such vibrant, historical and present day connections to Asia,” he said.
“I want us all to commit this month, and all year long, to actively denounce hateful actions and support those fighting hard to make our city even more inclusive and welcoming.”
The suspect in the April 2 incident at the Chinese Cultural Centre is described as white, with a thin build. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a black jacket, black pants and grey running shoes. He was also wearing a black baseball cap with writing on the front and had a black and white bandana covering his nose and mouth.
Anyone with information is asked to call the VPD investigators at 604-717-2773 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.
With files from Mike Howell