Hamilton saw a 61 per cent increase in hate crimes in 2022: Police

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Published April 24, 2023 at 1:56 pm

Hamilton Police have released their hate crime statistics for 2022, indicating there was a major increase in hate/bias incidents from the previous year.

In 2022, there were 174 hate or bias incidents reported to police — a 61 per cent increase from 2021, which saw 108 incidents.

Police say the majority of these incidents were related to racial bias, followed by religion and sexual orientation. The Black community, Jewish community and 2SLGBTQIA+ community were the most frequently targeted.

Police also believe the true number is likely much larger, as most incidents go unreported.

“While this rise in occurrences and crimes is concerning, it is encouraging that these incidents are being reported and captured,” said Comfort Afari, Hamilton Black Health Community Leaders Forum.

“This data shows us the extent of how communities are impacted and certainly, for those communities like the Black community, we know many hate occurrences go unreported.”

Notable incidents in 2022 involved a man hurling violent threats and transphobic slurs on a Hamilton city bus. Another incident involved a male suspect who was wanted by police for graffiti containing anti-Semitic messages in the area of Main Street West and Bay Street.

Gustavo Rymberg, CEO of the Hamilton Jewish Federation, says there’s a growing trend of anti-Jewish hate in Hamilton.

“There is a deep impact on the Jewish community that takes an emotional and physical toll,” said Rymberg.

Winsome Plummer, President of the Jamaica Foundation of Hamilton, also said the numbers are “troubling.”

Police have asked community members to report all incidents of hate or bias to the Hamilton Police Service (HPS) to ensure officers can respond. Reports can be made by calling 905-546-4925 or at police’s website.

“When we know about an incident, we can assign the appropriate resources to make our community safer,” said Hate Crime Investigator Fabiano Mendes.

Starting in 2019, police say they’ve implemented multiple strategies to prevent hate crimes, including: Providing further support to hate crime victims via HPS Victim Services, developing a hate crime dashboard to provide online real-time data, and working to establish a Hate Crime Case Review Team, among other strategies.

Multiple hate crimes have been reported in 2023 so far, including an incident where a woman was slapped and subjected to racial slurs in February, as well as a similar hate-motivated assault earlier in April.

Hamilton Police Chief Frank Bergen says these incidents affect the whole community.

“These crimes impact a sense of belonging, safety and wellbeing for victims and creates fear within our community,” Bergen said.

“We all have a responsibility to call out hate. By working collaboratively, we can make sure we have a unified response in supporting victims and addressing the root causes of hate.”

Police are expected to release a full report for 2022’s hate crime incidents at a later date.

In 2021 there were a total of 108 hate/bias incidents reported to police, an increase of 35 per cent from 2020.

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