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Victims of anti-Asian hate speak to mayor, police at Vancouver roundtable

Last Updated May 13, 2021 at 8:47 pm PDT

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Police Chief Adam Palmer held an Anti-Asian Hate Crime roundtable discussion. (Twitter/Marcella Bernardo)

Vancouver mayor and police chief held an anti-Asian crime roundtable, hearing from victims and witnesses

Racist crimes are not just a result of COVID, one speaker says

Stewart says every suggestion made to himself and Palmer at the session will be followed up on

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Days after Vancouver was named North America’s capital of anti-Asian hate crimes, the mayor and police chief held a roundtable for victims and witnesses.

Hosted by the Vancouver Police Board, the roundtable lasted more than two hours, and included testimonials from people targeted by racists. Vancouver police reported a 717 per cent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 compared with 2019. The city has recorded 15 such incidents since the start of this year.

Trixie Ling spoke about her experience, saying she hopes the white man who spat on her after verbally attacking her last year is caught.

“I know they put some energy and time into my case, but ultimately, there was also no follow-up. The case has been closed for over six months,” Ling says, adding she only found out recently the file was closed.

“My initial response was not to report to the police. I thought maybe it’s not serious enough. You know, it’s horrible, but you know it’s not something I should report. It was a friend of mine who actually convinced me to actually report it.”

Ling hopes education and inclusion training will better equip bystanders to report abuse.

“It’s not just the results of COVID. It has remained under the surface ever since Asian Canadians arrived here and it’s still very evident today,” Ling says.

“That shows the historical racism that is in Canada because a lot of people have taken that training, and how do we create something like this, is also to hear the voices of the community,” she says.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer welcomed Ling’s participation at the roundtable, saying he’s grateful for her powerful voice.

“Talking to people in positions of power and letting us know what the young generation is thinking. Leading our community as you go on for many, many decades,” Palmer says.

Some of those who spoke during the panel discussion shared their belief that the number of hate crimes is much higher than figures show, with many incidents going unreported. Others spoke of their frustration that despite growing awareness, no discernible action has been taken.

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When asked about potentially implementing a policy of policing similar to the ‘broken windows policing’ the New York Police Department enacted in the 1990s, Mayor Kennedy Stewart says that although that policy is often cast in a positive light, it does affect marginalized communities.

“I do think that we would have to learn from the mistakes that were made in New York, and to have a more Vancouver based model, where we recognize diversity in terms of ancestry, as well as income, and perhaps opportunity. So, I do think that the idea of making sure the small stuff doesn’t slide by is a good one, but to make sure that the entire community is engaged,” Stewart says.

The broken windows policing policy comes from a theory that suggests visible signs of crime, such as vandalism, loitering, and public drinking, creates and encourages further crime and public disorder. The theory proposes that focusing on smaller crimes is a way to prevent bigger, more serious crimes.
However in more recent years, several studies have suggested that the success of the policy in New York was actually due to other factors.

Palmer says whilst there’s some upsides to the program, it does come with a significant increase in resources.

“What we do in Vancouver, is we do look at our data very closely and our analytics on a regular basis — on a daily basis — we do see where the increases in the trends are happening in our city, and we do allocate our resources appropriately,” Palmer says.

Stewart also revealed he and members of his staff have been taking anti-Asian racism training.

“It’s extremely eye-opening and it’s prompted conversations with my own family about how we recognize our ancestry and how we’ve impacted, as colonizers.”

Stewart wrapped up the session by saying every suggestion made to himself and Palmer will be followed up on.

“I know we could all come together and fight this, but we can not return it to normal levels. We can get it — hopefully — stamp it out for good, and that’s always got to be our goal,” he says.

– With files from The Canadian Press