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Alleged hate-motivated assault in Vancouver latest example of troubling trend: councillor

Last Updated Jan 9, 2021 at 4:34 pm PDT

(Courtesy Vancouver Police Department, Twitter)

A Vancouver councillor says one man's experience of two 'hate-related incidents' in a year show troubling trend in city

Vancouver police arrested one man after he allegedly assaulted another while yelling anti-semitic remarks Friday

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A Vancouver man says he no longer feels safe in the city after being targeted in two hate-related incidents in the last year.

Eddy Elmer took to Twitter to describe an assault he experienced Friday in the West End, saying another man approached him yelling anti-semitic remarks, before striking him in the leg and trying to punch him in the head.

Last year, Elmer says he was threatened and chased by someone after being berated with an anti-gay slur. Elmer thanked the Vancouver Police Department for their response, which included arresting the man who allegedly perpetrated the assault.

NEWS 1130 has reached out to police for an update on the investigation.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung, who has been raising the alarm about an increase in hate-motivated crimes in the city, reached out to Elmer.

“I’m sorry Eddy you had this awful experience. It makes me feel ill to hear about hate incidents like this. Sadly it’s not isolated, and we can’t turn a blind eye to a serious issue,” she wrote.

In June of 2020, Kirby-Yung brought a motion to council calling for a municipal anti-racism and anti-hate strategy.

“At that time we had seen an alarming increase in anti -Asian hate crime, particularly because of the coronavirus, we saw a lot of people that were targeting people from the Chinese community specifically,” she explains.

“So, I wanted to respond to that but when you looked at the stats you also saw there are other groups that are targeted in our city including members of the LGBT community, the Jewish community and then of course we saw the incidents that started to unfold with Black Lives Matter.”

Elmer’s experiences, and the fact that he says he does not feel safe in the city, is something Kirby-Yung says echoes concerns being raised by more and more of her constituents.

“I think people are feeling increasingly unsafe. These are not isolated incidents we hear about them more and more, and they’re related to a lot of the serious and ongoing issues that we have in the city. We have a lot of people that are suffering from addictions and mental health issues. And then we have challenges that are exacerbated by the pandemic as well, and groups are targeted,” she says.

“It’s really unfortunate to see these incidents growing but to leave them unchecked is, I think, the bigger crime here, and it’s something that I think council and all levels of government need to take seriously.”

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Kirby-Yung says she’s glad to hear Elmer was satisfied with the police response, but she says preventing and ultimately eliminating these attacks should be the goal of any comprehensive anti-racism strategy.

“I think the bigger challenge is to get to a point where we don’t have these incidents happening at all. That’s why I was calling for a broader hate strategy that involves education and trying to move the needle so that we can reduce the number of incidents that happen. If and when they do happen things like bystander education and awareness are important so that these crimes can be reported,” she says.

“I think it’s every time we have an incident like this it’s a wake-up call for the people that are in government to take action because people are feeling increasingly unsafe in their city.”