VANCOUVER (SCMP): Vancouver police have launched a plea for help to identify a suspect who punched a young Asian woman to the ground, amid a spate of racist hate crimes in the west Canadian city.
Police said on Tuesday that the motivation for the “disgusting” attack, captured on closed-circuit TV, was not known, but it appeared to be unprovoked.
The silent video, filmed in downtown Vancouver on April 12, shows a young man veer towards his much smaller victim, who is wearing a dark hoodie. She glances up, the man punches her once in the face and she falls to the pavement, clutching her head as the man swiftly walks away.
“We are investigating this as a stranger assault and the motive is unknown, ” said Sergeant Aaron Roed, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).
However, police say there has been a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver during the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty such crimes have been reported to police so far this year, compared to 12 in all of 2019. Sixteen of this year’s anti-Asian hate crime reports were made in March or April.
In a statement about the April 12 attack, the VPD said: “The suspect approached the Asian victim at a bus stop near Granville and West Pender Streets, punched her in the face and then fled on a transit bus.
“The assault appears to be unprovoked as there was no communication between the victim and the attacker.”
At a news conference, Roed said of the 22-year-old victim that “physically, she’s a lot better. Emotionally, she’s going to have to deal with this assault that happened ... we’re going to be there for her and we have provided victim services.”
Roed said he could not speculate on motives but the VPD diversity and hate crime section had been informed of the incident, which he called “a disgusting act, an assault on an innocent person”.
The attacker was described by police as a white man of medium build in his mid-20s, wearing a dark T-shirt with a deer emblem on the front, a grey long-sleeve shirt under his T-shirt, and a beanie with grey and yellow stripes.
The release of the video on Tuesday came less than two weeks after the VPD made a similar plea to identify a different man who hurled anti-Asian slurs about Covid-19 as he attacked a 92-year-old dementia sufferer surnamed Kwong.
That attack, in which Kwong was thrown out of a 7-Eleven store in East Vancouver and fell heavily to the ground on March 13, was also caught on video. A suspect was identified less than 24 hours after the release of the video on April 23; no charges have been laid and the investigation is continuing.
Then on Friday, the VPD launched another plea for help to identify a masked man who defaced windows at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver’s Chinatown with “hateful graffiti” on the afternoon of April 2.
“It’s disheartening to report that these types of crimes are ongoing during the pandemic, ” said the VPD’s Constable Tania Visintin about the graffiti incident. “Our department takes crimes with such hate attached extremely seriously. We will not tolerate this in our city.”
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said last week he was angered “to see some people commit such hateful acts”. -SCMP
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