Toronto police report an eight per cent increase in the number of reported hate and bias crimes in 2016, compared with 2015, though the numbers of arrests have decreased in the same period.
There were 145 reported cases of hate and bias crimes in 2016 and eleven arrests. In 2015, there were 134 reported cases and 19 arrests.
In its annual report, released last week, police said the lack of arrests can be attributed to the lack of suspect descriptions as the victims or witnesses were not around during the incidents, mostly in the cases of mischief to property.
The report which will be discussed at today’s meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, noted that in 2016, the most victimized groups were the Jewish, LGBT, Black and Muslim communities.
Kenneth Jeffers, the lone black member of the Toronto Police Services Board and a longtime community activist , or pro-activist, as he now calls himself, said he plans to speak out at today’s meeting about ” the almost total non participation and ineffectiveness of the Human Rights Commission and Tribunal in most vital matters concerning racism and anti-black racism in particular.”
“Why does it seem that the police services has this apparently huge responsibility of addressing the increase of racism, more specifically anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia in this city and country? What is the rationale?” he asked.
Jeffers said that the role of the police tends to be a reaction to a criminal activity ” but the minimizing of the occurrence of racism relies more on the many ‘anti-racism’ government agencies and the highly paid consultants who generally profess to address ‘diversity.’ the pleasant euphemism for racism.
“Who is holding them accountable?”
Noting that few people bother to record or speak of their experiences as victims of racism because such experiences have become ‘normalized behaviour,’ Jeffers suggested that researchers in this area ” must come to grips with the chronic ineptitude and lack of confidence by people of colour.”
Nigel Barriffee, president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations said many hate crimes are not reported. because people are afraid to go to the police.
He said stronger legislation is required to deal with these crimes.
“We need the political leadership that stands up and says it’s not okay, then backs it up with legislation that gives the tools that police need to lay charges and get convictions for these hate crimes,” Barriffee added.