Though fewer hate crimes plagued Toronto’s streets last year, police say 55 Division saw an increase in reported incidents.
The police’s annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report further showed the division had the second most hate-motivated crimes out of the 17 divisions in the city — rising from 11 in 2010 to 16 in 2011.
Crime prevention officer for 55 Division Robert McDonald called the surge “artificially large and not alarming.”
“When they do a cleanup and find tagging on any train or streetcar that ends up on the large streetcar and subway barns in the area — the Greenwood Subway Yard and the Russell Carhouse — it automatically becomes our hate crime,” said McDonald.
But TTC spokesperson Danny Nicholson said there are no reports of hate crime graffiti defacing any vehicle parked in transit yards.
“You get the usual tags like names but nothing hate crime-related,” said Nicholson, adding that all reported graffiti is erased at subway or streetcar lots within 24 hours.
Police did not confirm the number of incidents tied to the TTC yards, but McDonald said the graffiti in the report consisted largely of swastikas and offensive terms directed toward members of the Jewish, LGBT, Muslim and Black communities.
“These groups are easily targeted because they are proud and very visible groups,” McDonald said.
The hate crimes that occurred in 55 Division in 2011 were categorized as: six instances of mischief, five instances of threatening death, three assaults, and two arsons.
McDonald doesn’t recall any arrests being made.
“Any hate crime isn’t acceptable,” he said. “The people of our division are multicultural and very accepting.”
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