By TOM GODFREY
At least three times a week in Toronto someone falls victim to a hate crime in which police are called to investigate.
There was a 10 per cent increase in the number of hate or bias crimes last year. Officers of a Hate Crime Unit were called to probe 146 occurrences, as compared to 131 incidents in 2013.
The statistics released last week show there is still a lot of intolerance out there against some minority groups and we all have to be vigilant of hate and stop those who spread it.
Many people wrongly believe that racism or intolerance against others have decreased due to the information age that we live in, with the Internet and popularity of social media.
But that is not the case.
Jews, Blacks and Muslims in Toronto are the most targeted races that are subjected to racial bullying. Last year there were 44 incidents against Jews, 20 against Blacks and 16 against Muslims.
In many cases, the victims were assaulted in public spaces, as in roadways, public transit or city parks.
Members of the Jewish community, like Blacks and Muslims, are long used to being the target of racist attacks, with their synagogues being defaced with graffiti.
Just this year alone in Edmonton, a Jewish mosque and Sikh gurdwara were painted with comments like “Leave Canada” and other slurs. The crimes shocked the communities and there have been no arrests.
In Toronto, the Black community makes up 8.5 per cent of the visible minority population but was victimized in about 14 per cent of the total hate crimes last year.
Similarly, 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.
Members of the LBGTQ were victimized 27 times last year, according to police.
And who can forget Munira Abukar, a Ward 2 candidate in last October’s municipal elections, who had her campaign sign defaced twice by cowards who scrawled “Go back home”. One man even called the Somali-Canadian a racial slur.
Another candidate, who was seeking a Toronto trustee position, claimed he was heckled, called a supporter of Sharia Law and the Toronto 18 terror cell.
Police say the racists are not organized and are loosely connected. Many of the hatemongers troll the Internet seeking victims while trying to remain anonymous through the use of false emails or websites.
Police said they can run but cannot hide.
Detectives can unravel the online activities and file charges against those responsible.
Still, only 22 offenders were nabbed by police last year for race crimes and most were found guilty and sentenced to time served or a few months in the slammer.
It is not surprising that the police divisions with the highest numbers of hate occurrences was 32 Division, that is largely Jewish in North York, with 25 incidents; and busy 52 Division in downtown Toronto with 18 incidents and 14 Division with 15.
Ironically, 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.
Anyone who has been victimized will tell you there has to be harsher penalties for those convicted of race-related crimes. Hatemongers must face longer jail terms or sentences for these offences, especially in a multicultural country like Canada.
Many say the penalty does not fit the crime.
Blacks, Jews and Muslims have been in Canada for decades and will continue to remain vigilant for all Canadians and take action against those who hate.
I have been around long enough to know that those who hate are cowards and bullies who like to hide and can’t stand to be publicly outed. I say it is about time that we outed some of the worst hate offenders.