By TOM GODFREY
Members of the Black, Jewish and Muslim communities are among the most targeted groups preyed on by cowardly hatemongers, according to a 2014 Toronto Police Hate Crime report.
The report was compiled by the force’s Hate Crime Unit as they investigated hate or bias crimes in Toronto during 2014. The unit said there were 146 reported hate or bias criminal occurrences last year, as compared to 131 incidents in 2013, or a 10 per cent rise.
The study that was presented last week to the Toronto Police Services Board said there were 44 incidents against the Jewish community; 27 against the LBGTQ community; 20 occurrences against Blacks and 16 against Muslims.
“The highest percentage of the 146 reported hate/bias criminal occurrences in 2014 were motivated by religion, followed by sexual orientation and race,” the report said.
It said the two most victimized groups were the Jewish and Islamic communities and that 49 of the 93 occurrences involving religion were deemed mischief to property crimes.
“In 22 hate occurrences where race was the motivating factor the Black community was the most frequently victimized group,” the annual study said.
The Black community was targeted in 20 of the 22 hate crimes and the occurrences included 13 offences of mischief to property; one death threat; two assaults; two criminal harassments and three uttering threats.
The attacks took place in public streets, dwellings, schools or on public transit.
The document said the Black community constitutes 8.5 per cent of the visible minority population in Toronto but was victimized in about 14 per cent of the total hate crimes last year. It stated the Jewish community represents about 3.8 per cent of the religious population in Toronto but was victimized in about 30 per cent of the hate crimes.
It said about 2 per cent of Canadians who consider themselves to be homosexual, bisexual or in the LGBTQ community were victimized in about 18 per cent of the incidents.
“Hate-bias crimes have a disproportionately greater impact upon their victims than other types of crimes,” the report warned. “Hate motivated crimes have longer lasting serious side-effects for society as a whole.”
It said a hate crime not only victimizes the individual, but also the entire group that individual belongs to, “resulting in the increased isolation, stress and vulnerability of that particular group”.
“If police do not respond to reports of hate crimes immediately and appropriately, these crimes can lead to increased social conflict between groups and possible retaliation,” police said.
The report said a “timely and effective police response can have a very positive and lasting influence on the relationship between police and various communities”.
Police said the hate crime groups in Toronto are “commonly loose affiliations or informal gatherings of like-minded individuals”.
“Social media, blogs, forums, web sites and other forms of Internet-based contact remain popular as modes for recruitment,” the report stressed. “In the majority of cases, offenders had no known association to any commonly known hate groups.”
It warned that the Internet remains a popular method for communicating hate propaganda, threats and criminal harassment, most likely due to the perpetrator’s perceived ability to remain anonymous.
“Perpetrators are frequently able to remain anonymous by creating false personas and email addresses when communicating to their victims over the Internet,” the report said. It added that some of the top ten hate crimes last year occurred on the Web.
The Toronto police divisions with the highest numbers of hate occurrences were 32 Division, in North York, with 25 incidents; followed by 52 Division in downtown Toronto with 18 incidents and 14 Division, also in the downtown area, with 15.
The report said there was a decrease in hate crimes in 31 Division, in the Jane and Finch area, 33 Division and 43 Division in Scarborough.
The number of people arrested for hate crime offences increased from 17 arrests in 2013 to 22 in 2014.
Most suspects charged or convicted with hate-related offences face terms of less than a year in jail, if given jail time. Many are subjected to house arrest or are fined.