Ottawa is not immune to the racial tensions going on in the world as Ottawa Police say there continues to be a rise of racism, phobia and discrimination in the city.
Det. Ali Togrhol of the hate crimes investigation unit at the Ottawa Police says the frequency of hate crimes targetting people of Asian-descent has continued to rise in Canada's capital since March — which is around the time the pandemic made its way to Ottawa.
“It was very difficult for us to understand because you can’t go around blaming specifically a group of people for what’s happening globally, especially people in Ottawa. It was very troubling for us so it was something we had to work on,” Toghrol said.
Recently, police have had to deal with a case of two people driving around Merivale Road yelling obscenities at people of Asian-descent, blaming them for the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a case the police are still working on as they continue to search for the two accused.
As to who is carrying out these types of hate crimes, Taghrol said there’s no typical perpetrator. He’s seen everyone from teens as young as 16 to seniors in their 60s take part in racist and discriminatory acts.
This, Taghrol says, does not surprise him.
"It’s in our community and it surfaces differently for different age groups when it comes to age or social standing or what not,” he said.
Hate crimes, he adds — like many other types of crimes — are going underreported. This could be because of reasons like cultural barriers, fear and embarrassment.
But whether you’re the victim or witness, it’s important to report these crimes to police, Taghrol says, because most of the time, it’s about having a conversation with the perpetrators.
“By no means do we want to charge everyone who does these sorts of acts. Sometimes we have to, but I think the educational piece is the most important part what we do on a daily basis. So please report, report, report.”
To report hate crimes, you can do so by contacting the Ottawa Police or done anonymously through the Ottawa Police app.
“We just want reporting. Just report it.”