Toronto police report the most targeted group for hate crimes in 2021 were Jews

Jews were the demographic most targeted by hate crimes in Toronto last year, according to the annual hate crime statistical report presented at a Toronto Police Services (TPS) board meeting on May 2.

Of the 257 hate crimes that were reported in Toronto in 2021, 56 targeted the Jewish community, followed by 47 targeting the Black community and 41 targeting the East and Southeast Asian community. The 257 hate crimes represent a 22 percent increase from the 210 reported in 2020.

The majority of the reported hate crimes that targeted Jews—36 of 56—were classified as mischief under $5,000. According to the report, vandalism and graffiti were the two most common types of this crime, and they were most often reported at schools of all types, on public transit, and in apartment buildings.

The second most common hate crime against Jews was assault, with seven reported cases.

The onset of COVID seems to have led to a rise of violent hate crimes against East and Southeast Asian people, as over 20 cases of assault were reported against them in 2021.

Black people were targeted with 19 cases of mischief under $5,000 and 11 cases of assault.

Muslims were the only other ethnic or religious community with reported hate crimes in the double-digits at 14, with five assaults.

“Year over year we are seeing an increase in hate motivated crimes in Toronto and we have taken steps to increase the capacity of our dedicated Hate Crime Unit and expand our community outreach efforts to address community concerns directly. Hate crimes victimize not only the person, but also the communities they identify with and the negative effects can be long-lasting,” Chief of Police James Ramer said in a statement from TPS.

“We know hate crimes often go unreported and we are committed to working alongside our community partners to break down barriers and develop relationships so that more people will feel comfortable coming forward to report these crimes.”

To help combat hate crimes and increase investigative capacity, the 2022 budget includes a redeployment of resources towards the hate crimes unit. The redeployment will create two additional positions dedicated to hate crime education, prevention, and investigations.

The statement also said that the Hate Crimes Unit is in regular collaboration with a number of TPS community engagement services, including the newly formed Jewish Community Consultative Committee.

During the May 2 meeting, which took place virtually, Mike Teper of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation gave a deputation after the presentation on the 2021 hate crime statistics. Teper commended the TPS for working with all the levels of government and other police forces to fight hate crimes.

Teper also raised a concern that antisemitic hate crimes are classified as religious as opposed to ethnic or nationalistic, which does not reflect the nature of the hate crimes targeted against Jews. For that reason, he urged the TPS to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Later on in the meeting, Ramer addressed Teper’s concern. “Regardless of whether the offending behavior is motivated by animus towards religion, ethnicity or race, if the behaviour fits within the definition of hate crime under the Criminal Code and the Crown consents, we will lay that charge,” Ramer said. “So quite often you’ll see that there are other non-hate-crime provisions in the code that we will utilize when the specific hate crime charges cannot.”

Aside from raising the concern about categorization, Teper also commented about the types of hate crimes directed at Jews.

“Though the majority of these hate crimes consist of mischief to property under $5,000, little comfort can be taken from the statistic. As the detective pointed out earlier in this presentation, antisemitic vandalism is not a joke, it’s not a prank, it’s not trivial, and it’s not victimless. It is, more than anything else, a crime of intimidation,” he said. “Every act of antisemitic vandalism, in that sense, is an act of violence and a threat to public safety.”