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'Hatred will have no space in our city': Nearly 100 hate crimes reported to Toronto police since onset of Israel-Hamas war

A Toronto Police Services logo is shown at headquarters, in Toronto, on Friday, August 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov A Toronto Police Services logo is shown at headquarters, in Toronto, on Friday, August 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

There have been nearly 100 hate crimes reported to Toronto police since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, more than double the number observed during the same time period last year.

Chief Myron Demkiw released the latest data during a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board on Tuesday morning.

The data shows that since Oct. 7 there have been 98 hate crime occurrences in Toronto compared to 48 during the same time period in 2022.

Furthermore, the figures show that there has been a particularly pronounced increase in antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes in recent months.

A total of 56 of the 98 total occurrences were classified by police as antisemitic, up from 18 during the same time period last year. Another 20 were categorized as anti-Muslim/Palestinian, up from just two during the same time period in 2022.

"We are steadfast in our resolve to ensure that Palestinian, Muslim, Jewish, all communities for that matter, are kept safe from acts of hatred and violence," Demkiw said in a press release. "While the Jewish, Palestinian and Muslim communities have demonstrated tremendous resiliency during these incredibly challenging times, as a police service we continue to be resolute; committed to ensuring public safety and security, while also ensuring that the constitutional right to free speech is maintained. This is a delicate balancing."

Since the onset of the war, Toronto police have increased the size of the force’s hate crime unit from six officers to 20 investigators and eight district special constables.

They have also launched an online form where members of the public can report instances of hate-motivated graffiti.

In the release, police noted that the Hate Crime Unit has made 43 arrests and laid 96 charges related to hate crime occurrences since Oct. 7.

Demkiw, however, said that police will continue to be “relentless” in their pursuit of “those who perpetrate crimes against any group or community.”

“Hatred will have no space in our city,” he said.

Police say that there have been a total of 338 reported hate crimes so far in 2023. That is up approximately 41 per cent when compared to the same time period in 2022.

There have been 159 instances of hate graffiti reported to Toronto police since Oct. 7.

The latest figures confirm what Jewish people are experiencing in Toronto right now, said Noah Shack, the vice president of countering antisemitism and hate with the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

"This has been a really disproportionate impact on Jewish people here. And frankly, it's not just an attack on the Jewish community. It represents an attack on the fabric of our society and the values that all Torontonians hold dear," Shack said in an interview with CP24.

"What's starting with hateful words is all too often leading to hateful actions, targeting Jewish people in Toronto. We all need to come together as a variety of different communities here to stand shoulder to shoulder against hate, particularly this astonishing skyrocketing of hate targeting Jewish people right now."

Shack added that those who are perpetrating hate should be held accountable to make it clear that Toronto doesn't tolerate their actions.

He said if people do not speak out and hate is left unchecked, the situation will only get worse.

"This is an alarming time, and it's time for everybody to recognize just how serious this threat is, again, not just to Jewish people who are the immediate targets of this hate, but to our broader society, that is damaged each and every time one of these hateful words is uttered, one of these hateful threats is made, and one of these hateful acts takes place," Shack said.

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) echoed the same sentiments, saying that the trajectory of antisemitism is "extremely alarming" and called on law enforcement and government officials to implement all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the community.

"We urge everyone to be vigilant and stand up against hate whenever and wherever it appears," FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Uthman Quick, the director of communications at the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), said the police numbers reflect a "terrible situation" happening on the streets, schools, workplaces and online.

He did note that his group has received a higher number of hate incidents against the Muslim community, including Muslim women being spat on.

"What we're seeing is a lot of people who are reporting incidents to us but are not then, in turn, reporting them to the police," Quick said.

He added that NCCM is also taking reports from Palestinians and Arab Canadians who are being targeted for being in solidarity with the people in Gaza.

"Islamophobia in and of itself is a problem that we know has been an enormous problem across the country. Canada has the most amount of Islamophobic killings of any G7 country. That right there tells you that this is a specific issue that needs to be addressed in and of itself," Quick said. Top Stories

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