Vancouver police investigate two unprovoked assaults on Asian women, as reports reveal anti-Asian hate crime stats

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      While reports from police and organizations have tracked how racist attacks against Asian Canadians have increased during the pandemic, investigators are asking for the public's help in investigations into two assaults against Asian women in Vancouver.

      The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) issued a news release today (November 6) about investigations into two alleged assaults in Downtown Vancouver this week.

      Both incidents involved unprovoked assaults against East Asian women, one in her early 20s and the other in her early 40s, but the motives still remain to be determined.

      While they haven’t officially been classified as hate crimes, the investigators also isn’t ruling them out either as hate crimes.

      “Our hate crime investigators are engaged and assisting with both investigations,” VPD Const. Tania Visintin stated in a news release. “The investigations are still in the early stages, but we are not ruling out any motives, including if there was a bias, prejudice or hate element to the assaults.”

      In the first incident, a woman was walking along Granville Street near Helmcken Street around 4:30 p.m. on November 4 when an unknown man approached her and punched her in the nose. The woman fell to the ground but was able to flee to a place where she was safe and able to call police.

      The suspect is described as a white male who is about 20 to 30 years old and 183 centimetres (six feet) tall. At the time of the assault, he had been wearing a red t-shirt with yellow stripes, dark pants, and sneakers.

      Then in the second incident, a woman was walking toward an Evo vehicle near West Georgia Street and Citadel Parade (in the area near B.C. Place and Rogers Stadium) around 5:30 p.m. on November 5 when an unknown man walking past her spat on her cheek before he walked away.

      Unfortunately, officers weren’t able to locate him. However, Const. Visintin stated at a news conference today that investigators do have DNA from the spit. She also stated that spitting is considered an assault, whether or not it takes place during a pandemic.

      This suspect is described as about 165 to 168 centimetres (five feet five- or six-inches) tall with dark brown shoulder-length hair. At the time, he was wearing dark baggy clothing.

      Const. Visintin stated that evidence indicates the suspects and victims had no relation to each other.

      Anyone with information is asked to call the VPD or Crime Stoppers.

      This past week, CTV News reported that a Burnaby man, an immigrant from the Philippines, on a bus on October 30 was subjected to an allegedly unprovoked verbal racist abuse from a male passenger, who made Sinophobic comments as well as threats to kill him and his family.

      Police and national reports

      On October 27, the VPD released its report for crime statistics, comparing the first nine months of 2020 to the same time period last year. The report revealed that anti-Asian hate crime incidents have increased by 138 percent this year compared to last year.

      On September 8, several Asian Canadian organizations released the results of a national report on attacks on Asian Canadians.

      The involved organizations include the Chinese Canadian National Council (Toronto chapter), the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, Project 1907, and the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, which is currently underway and will include a panel discussion on Asian stereotyping on Sunday (October 8). 

      Over 600 incidents of anti-Asian racism were reported from seven provinces to the Vancouver Asian Film Festival’s Elimin8hate campaign and the federal government’s Fight COVID-19 Racism websites.

      Data from both sites revealed that Canada has a higher number of anti-Asian racism reports per capita than the United States.

      British Columbia had the largest number of reported incidents per capita in North America, followed by California, New York, and Ontario.

      The most common victims have been women, who represent 60 percent of victims. In B.C., 70 percent of incidents involved female victims.

      In 65 percent of these incidents, verbal abuse and harassment—including racial slurs, derogatory remarks, or slurs—were also involved.

      Almost 30 percent of these incidents involved assault, including targeted coughing, spitting, and physical attacks and violence.

      The four aforementioned organizations are calling upon the federal government to include an anti-racism strategy in its post-pandemic recovery plan.

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