Hate crime reports continue to rise in Toronto since Israel-Hamas war began: police

Hate crime reports continue to rise in Toronto since Israel-Hamas war began: police © Provided by The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Hate crime reports in Toronto have continued to rise since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the city’s police chief said on Tuesday, noting that just over half of those were reports of alleged antisemitism.

Speaking at a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board, Chief Myron Demkiw said the force has maintained an increased presence across the city to ensure the safety of all residents.

“We will be relentless, indeed resolute, in our pursuit of those perpetrating crimes against any group or community,” he said. “Hatred will have no space in our city.”

Police said that between Oct. 7 – when the Israel-Hamas war began – and Dec. 17, there have been 98 hate crime reports in Toronto, compared with 48 during the same time period last year.

Demkiw said that included 56 antisemitic hate crime reports, compared to 18 during the same time period last year, and 20 anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab hate crime reports, versus two during the same time period in 2022.

The police chief said 53 per cent of all reported hate crimes in Toronto since Oct. 7  have been antisemitic.

“We know that the events have been tragic, horrific, heartbreaking and unimaginable for so many,” he said. “We have been in our communities and we understand and empathize with the pain.”

Police said they have made 43 arrests and laid 96 charges related to hate crime incidents since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. The most common charges include mischief and assault.

In detailing figures for nearly all of 2023, police said there had been 338 hate crime reports between Jan. 1 and Dec. 17, an increase of 41 per cent compared to the same period last year, when 239 were reported.

That included 147 antisemitic hate crime reports compared to 81 the previous year, and 37 anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab hate crime reports, versus 14 in the same period in 2022.

Toronto police launched a new web form last month to allow people to report hate-motivated graffiti, so officers can gather evidence and also arrange for the graffiti to be removed.

Police said they received 129 web submissions since the form was launched on Nov. 8. Eight of those were confirmed hate crimes, according to the force.

Demkiw said Toronto is also seeing a large number of protests related to the Israel-Hamas war, and the force has managed a total of 248 organized demonstrations in various areas of the city since Oct. 7.

“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,” he said.

“We continue to be resolute, committed to ensuring public safety and security, while also ensuring that the constitutional right to free speech is maintained.”

Source: Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press