hate crime toronto

Toronto saw a 51% spike in hate crimes last year and people are worried

Toronto saw an "unprecedented" increase in reported hate crimes in 2020, according to a new police report, with the Jewish community being the most frequently victimized group, followed by the Black community, the LGBTQ2S+ community and the Asian/Chinese communities. 

The Toronto Police Service 2020 Annual Hate Crime Statistical Report was released this week and reveals that reported hate crimes increased by 51 per cent (139 in 2019 and 210 in 2020) last year, indicating that global events such as the pandemic and the police killing of George Floyd are believed to have contributed to this phenomenon.

"Hate crimes not only victimize an individual but also the entire group they identify with,"said Chief of Police James Ramer in a statement

"We know this can have a long-lasting impact on the diverse communities we serve, resulting in increased isolation, stress and vulnerability. I want to make it clear, one hate crime is one too many."

According to the report, 63 of the 210 hate crimes reported in 2020 targeted the Jewish community, representing a 43 per cent increase from 2019. 

Another 14 hate crimes — considered to be "multi-bias" because they were against more than one identifiable group — also targeted the Jewish community, and two other incidents specifically targeted Israelis.

"It is extremely concerning to see that not only does the Jewish community remain the most targeted group when it comes to hate crimes in Toronto, but there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of antisemitic crimes," said Michael Levitt, president and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), in a statement

"Amid the pandemic, we have witnessed an alarming rise in hate crimes targeting all communities. Especially worrying is the rise of online hate, as individuals have turned to various platforms to organize attacks and spread vile rhetoric, including antisemitism."

The report indicates that hate crimes committed online increased from eight incidents in 2019 to 21 in 2020.

"The Internet, including social media, provides a platform for individuals to connect and communicate their beliefs and opinions, while maintaining a level of anonymity," reads the report. 

"At times, these platforms are utilized to disseminate hate propaganda. Users are able to spread hate, and misinformation, in an accessible and instantaneous way to a far-reaching global audience."

Reported anti-Black hate crimes also saw an alarming uptick in 2020, increasing from 13 in 2019 to 43 last year, 13 of which were reported in the month of June following Floyd's murder. 

These incidents include nooses and anti-Black graffiti reported at construction sites as well as other locations in Toronto.

Anti-Asian/Chinese hate crimes reported in 2020 also increased drastically last year, from just three in 2019 to 15 in the following year, a phenomenon which has been largely attributed to an increase in anti-Asian racism brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toronto Police have also acknowledged that many such incidents tend to go unreported and that training, educational and community outreach initiatives are necessary to address this fact.

"As a Service we have taken steps to address this concerning increase by expanding the capacity of our dedicated Hate Crime Unit who are specialized in investigating these crimes," Ramer said.

"We remain committed to working collaboratively within our Service and with our community partners, in a transparent and inclusive way, to build trust and encourage the reporting of hate crimes."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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