Spike in hate crime reports in Toronto since Israel Hamas war began: Police
November 23, 2023 By The Canadian Press
Nov. 23, 2023, Toronto, Ont. – Toronto has seen a “staggering” increase in hate crime reports since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas last month, the city’s police chief said on Thursday.
Speaking at a monthly meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, Chief Myron Demkiw said the city is experiencing a period of high tensions as the conflict continues in the Middle East.
“The number of reported hate incidents and hate crimes have increased, and since Oct. 7, increased at a staggering rate,” Demkiw said.
“The impact of crime motivated by hate is far reaching, and extends beyond the physical and emotional trauma suffered by the victim, affecting all members of the targeted community.”
The force said that between Oct. 7 and Nov. 20, there had been 38 reports of antisemitic hate crimes, compared to 13 during the same period last year, and 17 anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab hate crime reports, compared to one during the same time last year.
Overall, there were 78 hate crimes reported in Toronto during that time period, compared to 37 reported during the same stretch in 2022, police said.
“These are alarming trends in our city. Our city, which prides itself on our diversity,” said the police chief.
Demkiw said the force has expanded its hate crimes unit since the Israel-Hamas war began, increasing it in size from six members to a team of 21 investigators and eight special constables, along with an analyst and researcher position.
“This is being done by temporarily reassigning members from other areas of the service in order to prioritize the response to these crimes and expand investigative capacity,” he said.
Toronto police have made 25 arrests and laid 64 charges related to hate crime incidents since Oct. 7.
The most common charges include uttering threats, conspiracy to commit mischief and assault with a weapon.
Demkiw said Toronto is also seeing a large number of protests related to the Israel-Hamas war, with demonstrations happening in the city on an almost daily basis and including some large protests that draw more than 25,000 people.
The police force is committed to ensuring residents’ safety while ensuring that the constitutionally protected right to free speech and assembly is maintained, he said.
“There are limits on rights,” he said. “The right to safety and security doesn’t mean people won’t occasionally be uncomfortable when they hear things with which they disagree, and freedom of expression ends when it becomes criminal.”
Toronto police also recently launched a new web form to allow people to report hate-motivated graffiti, so officers can gather evidence and arrange for the graffiti to be removed. Police said they received 90 web submissions since the form was launched on Nov. 8.
Demkiw said that since Oct. 7, there have been 217 hate graffiti occurrences reported to police that were antisemitic and 63 that were anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian or anti-Arab.
Also on Thursday, police said they had charged 11 people with mischief over $5,000 after a group of suspects approached a book store – a large Indigo location – on Nov. 14, glued posters to the doors and windows and poured red paint on the windows and sidewalk of the business. Police said the incident is being treated as a suspected hate-motivated offence.
Print this page