Hate Crimes

Reported Hate Crimes Increase by More than 50% in Toronto

Written on behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

The recently released 2020 Annual Hate Crime Statistical Report by Toronto Police Services reported a 51% increase in the number of reported hate crimes in Toronto. It was suggested that worldwide events, including the pandemic and the death of George Floyd in the United States, contributed to this increase.

TORONTO POLICE SERVICES’ ANNUAL HATE CRIME STATISTICAL REPORT

This report provides data reported to Toronto Police between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 regarding criminal offences that are committed against persons or property which are motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on the victim’s race, nationality or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual or gender orientation, or any similar factor.

There were 139 reported hate crimes in Toronto in 2019 and 210 reported cases in 2020.

The latest Hate Crime Report identified an increase in the number of anti-Asian/Chinese hate crimes, an increase in online hate crimes and anti-Black hate crimes.

The Jewish community was found to be the most frequently victimized group in 2020, followed by the Black community, LGBTQ25+ community and the Asian/Chinese communities.

Chief of Police James Ramer stated:

Hate crimes not only victimize an individual but also the entire group they identify with. We know this can have a long-lasting impact on the diverse communities we serve, resulting in increased isolation, stress and vulnerability. We want to make it clear, one hate crime is one too many. 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.

HATE CRIME DEFINED

Hate crime is a broad legal term that refers to criminal offences motivated by hate towards an identifiable group based upon race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, gender, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or other similar factors. Crimes of this nature not only affect the targeted victim, but also indirectly impact entire communities of a particular identifiable group.

The Criminal Code of Canada provides a few specific offences that deal with criminal offences motivated by hate, including:

  • Section 318: Hate propaganda, which specifically refers to advocating for genocide;
  • Section 319: Public incitement of hatred, which specifically refers to stirring up hatred in public places; and
  • Section 430 (4.1): Mischief related to religious property, which specifically refers to mischief taking place a churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other places of worship.

Police may lay a hate-motivated or bias-motivated criminal charge if two things occur:

  1. A criminal offence must have occurred, such as an assault, damage to property or uttering threats; and
  2. Hate or bias towards a victim must have motivated the criminal offence, for example due to the victim’s race, nationality, colour, religion, general, disability or sexual orientation.

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code requires judges to consider an increased sentenced based on evidence that an offence was “motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor.”

RISE IN ANTI-BLACK COMMUNITY HATE CRIME IN 2020

The total number of anti-Black community hate crimes rose from 13 in 2019 to 43 in 2020. There was a significant increase in incidents against the Black community in the days following the death of George Floyd in the United States.

In response to the increase of anti-Black hate crime occurrences between the months of June and November 2020, the Toronto Police initiated a hate crime project team. This team, comprised of investigators from 55 Division, 52 Division, 11 Division, and members from the Hate Crime Unit, was established to conduct criminal investigations and comprehensive reviews.

RISE IN ANTI-ASIAN COMMUNITY HATE CRIME IN 2020

Toronto Police also reported a significant increase in reported hate crimes targeting the Asian community, specifically the Chinese community.

Asian Canadians across Canada have experienced an increase in hate crimes since the start of the pandemic. As of March 17, 2020, there have been 891 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes in Canada according to Fight COVID Racism. British Columbia has reported the most anti-Asian hate crime incidents per Asian capita in North America, followed by California, New York and Ontario.

Interestingly, women are impacted the most by anti-Asian hate crime (60% of all incidents are reported by women). In 65% of all anti-Asian hate crime cases, verbal abuse and harassment occur which include racial slurs, threats and derogatory remarks. In nearly 30% of reported hate crime cases against Asians, there are incidents of assault, which include coughing, spitting, physical attacks and violence.

ARRESTS MADE IN CONNECTION WITH HATE CRIME IN 2020

Toronto Police report that they have arrested 41 people in connection with reported hate crimes over the past year and have laid 77 hate-motivated criminal charges.

Unfortunately, many hate crimes in Canada are often unreported. Toronto Police, in an attempt to address this issue, have their officers taking part in training, education and community outreach initiatives. They encourage the public to report incidents of hate, prejudice and bias.

According to Chief Ramer:

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.

 If you have been charged with a criminal offence or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. We have a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times. We are available when you need us most.