Metro Vancouver witnesses series of racist and discriminatory graffiti over recent months

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      Last fall, Metro Vancouver experienced a wave of pamphlets and flyers being distributed that expressed discriminatory sentiments.

      Ku Klux Klan flyers were found in Abbotsford in October and January (as well as in Chilliwack in July 2016). Anti-Chinese flyers were distributed in Steveston in November. Neo-Nazi posters appeared in New Westminster in January.

      This year, a smoke bomb was also set off at an antiracism rally in downtown Vancouver in March. Then in April, Vancouver–False Creek NDP candidate Morgane Oger was the target of transphobic flyers that were denounced by B.C. political parties.

      Over the past few months, a number of incidents across the Lower Mainland have involved graffiti expressing a variety of hateful attitudes, including racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and Islamophobic phrases and slurs.

      Here's a summary of six local incidents that were reported in the news.

      Homophobic graffiti was also found at Gladstone Secondary school.
      Save Gladstone Secondary

      On February 20, CBC News reported that racist and homophobic graffiti was found spraypainted on the exterior of Gladstone Secondary school. "Hail Hitler" and a swastika were written on exteriors doors. A Hitler-like image appeared beside the words "prepare to be gassed". Elsewhere the phrase "It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" was also written on a wall.

      Abbotsford was hit twice in April by racist and misogynistic graffiti. On April 3, CTV News Vancouver reported that the phrases "white power, "I [heart] being white", and "objectify p__ssy" were spraypainted at Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts, along with swastikas. A few days later in Abbotsford on April 9, CTV News Vancouver reported that residents found swastikas and graffiti with profanity and sexual messages spraypainted on two cars.

      On April 16, the Georgia Straight reported that B.C. Liberal candidate for North Vancouver–Lonsdale Naomi Yamamoto discovered that one of her campaign signs had been defaced by a swastika. (Yamamoto is a Japanese Canadian whose parents were interned in B.C. during the Second World War.)

      On June 7, CBC News reported that Surrey realtor Manni Gill was informed by friends and family that racist graffiti had been scrawled across one of his ads at a bus shelter. Although Gill is Sikh, the phrase "Kill all Muslims" and "They are killing us" was written across his ad. 

      The Vancouver Courier reported on July 24 that after the historic "Electric Home" at 1550 West 29th Avenue, a house built in 1922 to demonstrate the use electricity in homes, was slated for demolition, the messages "Curse the Chinese greed and disrespect" and "unforgiveable" were written in red paint next to the front door and the garage door. "Shame on you" was written on the sidewalk.  

      North Shore News reported on July 27 that an anti-Chinese slur was discovered spraypainted on the West Vancouver Community Centre. It included the phrase "deserve to die". 

      Nazi-related graffiti was found at Gladstone Secondary school in February.
      Save Gladstone Secondary

      According to statistics provided by City of Vancouver's city manager Jag Sandhu, there were 3,161 graffiti reports with 21 of those categorized as hateful or offensive last year between January 1 and July 24. Within the same time frame this year, there were less overall reports (3,105) but more in the hate/offensive category (30).

      Out of the total number of graffiti reports in 2016 (which was 5,525), 36 of them were categorized as hateful or offensive, which means that this year, the city is only six cases away from matching last year's total.

      Sandhu told the Georgia Straight by phone that the reports are separate from cases filed by the Vancouver Police Department and Sandhu said the police's statistics may differ from what is reported to the city.

      The Georgia Straight is awaiting a response from the VPD for more information.

      To report graffiti on private or public property in Vancouver, reports can be made by phone by calling 311 or submitting a report online to the City of Vancouver's Integrated Graffiti Management Program.

      If you are a victim of graffiti, you can file a police report online. If you need to report graffiti that is in progress, please contact police immediately by calling 911.

      The City of Vancouver has a number of recommendations available on their website about reporting graffiti, including taking pictures and documenting the date and time.

      Graffiti is a criminal offence and termed mischief under section 430 of the criminal code.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook