Hamilton Police saw a 35 per cent increase in the number of hate/bias incidents and criminal offences compared to the previous year. In 2021, there were a total of 108 hate/bias occurrences reported to Hamilton Police.
The majority of reported occurrences were directly related to race, followed by religion and sexual orientation. Last year, the Black community, the Jewish community and the 2S&LGBTQIA community were the groups most frequently victimized. There was also a sharp increase in occurrences targeting the Islamic community, which is consistent across the province.
“This rising trend in hate crime is disturbing because it creates fear within our community. It impacts a sense of belonging, safety and wellbeing for those within our community who are targeted by these hate incidents and crimes. As a community, we need to do better,” said Chief Frank Bergen.
All events are classified by the Hamilton Police Hate Crime Investigator based on crimes and incidents reported to Hamilton Police. While there was a rise in the number of hate/bias occurrences, the true number is likely much larger since most incidents go unreported.
Hamilton Police say reporting hate occurrences is an important step in stopping the cycle of hatred and preventing others from being victimized.
“We know the impact of hate is far reaching and not only impacts the victim but the entire community. It’s important for police to be aware of hate crimes so we can do an analysis to ensure actions are taken and the right resources are assigned to make our community safer,” said Hate Crime Investigator Fabiano Mendes.
Hamilton Police are currently working to establish a Hate Crime Case Review Team in response to hate-motivated crimes in Hamilton. Modelled after the Sexual Assault Community Review Team (SACRT), the Hate Crime Case Review Team partners with local community organizations to review cases, provide recommendations and advise on training.
Last year, the Hate Crime Unit increased training with officers to identify and classify hate crimes and incidents. The Hate Crime Unit with the assistance from the Community Relations Coordinator, 2S&LGBTQIA Liaison Officer and Victim Services actively engaged with community members to increase awareness and encourage victims to report hate crimes and incidents.
“We have been engaging and listening to community for the changes that will inspire community safety in relation to hate crimes. One of the things we’ve heard asked for police to be more firm in condemning hate activities in the City,” said Community Relations Coordinator Jasbir Dhillon.
In 2021, Hamilton Police laid a willful promotion of hatred charge against a Hamilton man. After the senseless killing of a Muslim family in London, a 26-year-old Hamilton man intentionally targeted and promoted hatred against members of the Muslim community through social media. After investigating the incident, the Hamilton Police Hate Crime Unit applied to the Attorney General of Ontario and received consent to lay the charge. This was the first time this charge was laid by Hamilton Police.
“Combating hate in Hamilton will take a concerted effort on everyone’s part. As citizens, we need to come together to battle hate in our community. By working collaboratively, we can ensure a unified response in supporting victims and addressing the root causes of hate,” said Chief Bergen.
The statistics were released in the same week as complaints were made about a Confederate flag being displayed on a Binbrook home. Police have visited the homeowner to discuss the matter, but have no authority to order removal of the flag. The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion posted a hate filled tweet it had received this week.