Anti-Asian attacks in Vancouver: Man involved in racist incident in Richmond apologizes for his behaviour

Meanwhile, Richmond RCMP defended themselves from criticism about how the incident was handled

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      While the number of hate-crimes against people of Asian descent have spiked in Metro Vancouver during the pandemic, a recent incident ended with a man apologizing for his racist behaviour.

      Richmond RCMP stated today (May 15) that on May 8, an officer responded to a complaint about a verbal altercation took place near Garry Point Park.

      The complainant alleged that she and her mother had been walking when two men in a vehicle yelled racist comments at them.

      When the complainant yelled back, the driver allegedly revved his engine and motioned as if he would run them over.

      The males left in their vehicle by the time of the call to police. 

      The complainant provided a description of what had taken place, provided the license plate of the vehicle, and asked police to speak with the men about their behaviour.

      Investigators gathered evidence, identified and interviewed the males in the vehicle, and the male who made the remarks sent a letter of apology.

      After police spoke to the complainant about the letter, she forgave the male and thanked the police. She did not want to pursue charges even though she has the right to do so.

      Meanwhile, RCMP Supt. Will Ng stated in a news release that the officer who first responded to the incident has received emails criticizing how he handled the situation.

      “In this case our level of communication could have been better at the onset, we could have ensured the public was informed and had the reassurance that I and the Richmond RCMP take any complaints where our community feels unsafe very seriously,” Supt. Ng stated.

      CBC News reported that the complainant was surprised how the officer responded and that she felt like she wasn’t being helped. After she turned to social media to express what she had experienced, her post went viral.

      “It appears from the subsequent social media posts made by the complainant that our officer’s explanation was not clear,” Richmond RCMP Cpl. Adriana Peralta explained in a news release. “We want to ensure the public that the investigation was not being concluded or put off onto another jurisdiction. Our officer had already created and was in the process of actioning a list of investigative tasks including conducting a neighbourhood canvass to identify possible witnesses or locate video surveillance of the incident.”

      The male involved asked RCMP to apologize to the community on his behalf:

      “I’m asking you and your community for forgiveness for the verbal abuse on May 8, 2020. I want to make this right between our two cultures [his being First Nations]. Hate breeds hate, and during these times we need to be more loving and understanding. In closing, I humbly ask you and your culture for forgiveness and to give me another chance.”

      Other incidents

      While there have been a number of incidents that have been identified as being racially motivated, including a white male suspect yelling racist insults about COVID-19 while throwing a 92-year-old man with dementia out of an East Vancouver store or the racist graffitti at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Chinatown, there are other incidents involving Asian victims but the motivation remains undetermined.

      For example, a white male suspect approached a 22-year-old Asian female standing at a bus stop at Granville and West Pender streets and—without any prior interaction—punched her in the face before he left.

      Investigators are seeking to identify the suspect, who was captured on surveillance video, and the motive remains unknown.

      An assault in Downtown Vancouver involved an Asian victim but police do not believe it is a hate crime.

      A 28-year-old woman sitting was at a bus stop on the north side of Davie Street at Granville Street at 3 p.m. on May 7 when a man struck her in the head with a bag of plastic bottles.

      After police were called, officers arrested a 35-year-old suspect that a bystander pointed out.

      The man is facing charges of assault with a weapon.

      VPD spokesperson Tania Visintin told the Georgia Straight that the victim, who remained uninjured, was Asian but investigators do not believe it was a hate crime.

      Meanwhile, a white male suspect who violently assaulted a woman defending two female Asian bus passengers from his racist criticism on April 15 had since been identified as a 48-year-old man who died of an overdose one week after the attack.

      B.C.’s multiculturalism minister Anne Kang spoke out about the attacks and several awareness campaigns and efforts have been launched by screen stars, including Vancouver’s Steph Song, Ludi Lin, Tzi Mah, Olivia Cheng, Russel Yuen, Russell Wong, Gabrielle Miller, Benjamin Ratner, John Cassini, and Fiona Forbes.

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