Sur­vey sug­gests hate crimes more wide­spread than be­lieved

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - CATHER­INE SOLYOM csolyom@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/csolyom

A new sur­vey sug­gests that hate crimes and hate in­ci­dents in Que­bec are far more wide­spread than pre­vi­ously be­lieved — about 50 times more — with very few of them ever re­ported to po­lice.

The first of its kind in the prov­ince, the sur­vey of close to 2,000 peo­ple con­cludes that 0.7 per cent of adults — roughly 46,000 peo­ple — said they were vic­tims of hate crimes be­tween 2014 and 2017, and 2.9 per cent (or 191,000 peo­ple) said they were vic­tims of hate in­ci­dents.

That con­trasts with Que­bec po­lice statis­tics com­piled by Statis­tics Canada, which sug­gest there were 855 hate crimes re­ported in the prov­ince over those three years.

“There’s a huge dis­crep­ancy be­tween these results and official statis­tics,” said Ben­jamin Du­col, the re­search direc­tor at the Cen­tre for the Pre­ven­tion of Rad­i­cal­iza­tion Lead­ing to Vi­o­lence, which com­mis­sioned the sur­vey. “We know hate crimes and in­ci­dents ex­ist, but this shows us they are vir­tu­ally in­vis­i­ble.”

The sur­vey, con­ducted for the CPRLV by Vox Pop Labs — the same polling firm be­hind the Vote Com­pass — asked 1,843 re­spon­dents across Que­bec if they had ever been vic­tims or wit­nesses of hate crimes or in­ci­dents. Hate in­ci­dents were de­fined as ac­tions that show ha­tred to­ward an iden­ti­fi­able group and af­fect a per­son’s sense of se­cu­rity, with­out be­ing a crim­i­nal of­fence.

Twenty-five re­spon­dents across Que­bec said they had been vic­tims of hate crimes, and shared fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the na­ture of the crime:

13 were vic­tims of threat or ■ in­cite­ment of vi­o­lence;

15 were vic­tims of ha­rass­ment; ■

nine were vic­tims of phys­i­cal ■ vi­o­lence;

11 re­ceived on­line threats or ■ in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence.

They also re­vealed the mo­tives be­hind the crimes: The most com­mon were eth­nic­ity (in seven cases) re­li­gion (five), and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion (five).

Given the very small sam­ple size of the vic­tims, some of the results can­not be ex­trap­o­lated to rep­re­sent the whole Que­bec pop­u­la­tion, Du­col notes. The CPRLV is still work­ing on its re­port on hate crimes in Que­bec, and these results, gath­ered be­tween June and Septem­ber 2017, are raw.

But the sur­vey pro­vides a pro­file of the crimes and the per­pe­tra­tors that is nev­er­the­less re­veal­ing.

The most com­mon place for hate crimes to oc­cur was at or near one’s home, in a pub­lic place, or on so­cial me­dia.

In 12 cases, the per­pe­tra­tor was a stranger, while in five cases it was a neigh­bour.

In 10 cases, there was only one per­pe­tra­tor; in six, there were more than five.

On­line hate crimes ac­counted for about 20 per cent of the to­tal — which co­in­cides with what Mon­treal po­lice are find­ing, since they be­gan of­fi­cially keeping track of on­line hate crimes as a sep­a­rate cat­e­gory in April.

But it’s the an­swers to the ques­tions about how vic­tims and wit­nesses

of hate crimes re­acted af­ter the fact that are of great­est con­cern, Du­col said.

Only five of 25 vic­tims of crime re­ported it to the po­lice. Eleven spoke about it with loved ones, and six kept it to them­selves. (Statis­tics Canada, in its bul­letin on hate crimes in 2016, es­ti­mated that two thirds of hate crimes go un­re­ported to po­lice.)

Asked how they felt af­ter the crime, 14 said they were an­gry, 11 said they felt vul­ner­a­ble, and four said they were venge­ful, among other pos­si­ble an­swers. Ten said the crime made them want to not leave the house.

“(The CPRLV) is par­tic­u­larly con­cerned by peo­ple who say they are an­gry and vul­ner­a­ble. That’s where rad­i­cal­iza­tion might be­gin. This can be fer­tile ground for rad­i­cal­iza­tion,” Du­col said. “To see that when peo­ple are vic­tims of hate crimes they be­come an­gry and avoid places or whole neigh­bour­hoods. That’s also a prob­lem for pub­lic safety and for the ‘vivre ensem­ble’ (so­cial co­he­sion). They turn in on them­selves.”

Among wit­nesses, only four out of 47 wit­nesses re­ported the crime to the po­lice, due largely to the by­s­tander ef­fect, Du­col said, adding that per­haps there should be other ways to re­port hate in­ci­dents, be­sides go­ing to the po­lice.

Du­col sees the prob­lem as a puzzle. There are the low­ball po­lice statis­tics, then there are those kept by the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties with dif­fer­ent de­grees of ac­cu­racy, from the Jew­ish com­mu­nity, which en­cour­ages its mem­bers to re­port crimes to the po­lice — es­pe­cially af­ter an event like the Oct. 27 shooting in Pitts­burgh — to the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity, where cer­tain mem­bers, for ex­am­ple trans­gen­der peo­ple, have had neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences with po­lice, Du­col said.

The sur­vey sug­gests, how­ever, that peo­ple across re­gions, re­li­gions, age groups and gen­der be­lieve it’s an im­por­tant is­sue that re­quires the at­ten­tion of var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties.

Asked whether the Que­bec govern­ment should be more ac­tive in pre­vent­ing hate crimes, 63 per cent said yes. The same num­ber said the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments of Mon­treal and Que­bec City should also be more ac­tive.

“We all have part of the puzzle but we never put it to­gether,” Du­col said, adding the CPRLV is in the process of con­sult­ing with 30 com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions to work to­gether on this. “When you add it all up, it touches a lot of peo­ple, and it’s nor­mal that a lot of peo­ple say we need to do more.”

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