The Hamilton Spectator
Reporting tool for hate to launch next month
Platform will allow for reporting of incidents and connect people with resources and supports
A new online tool to track hate incidents in Hamilton and connect affected people with community resources is expected to launch next month, organizers say.
The tool, which will be publicly accessible in April, was created to address a gap in hate-incident reporting in the city, said Kojo Damptey, who announced the progress on the tool during an International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination news conference held outside Hamilton City Hall on Tuesday.
The impetus to create a community-based reporting tool arose in 2019, when hate-crime stats spiked to such a degree that Hamilton earned the unflattering nickname of the “hate capital of Canada.”
“At that time when we were saying Hamilton is the hate capital, folks in this building (city hall) were like, ‘You guys are exaggerating. Hamilton is a great place. Canada is a multicultural society.’ So we would come and say, ‘Hey, hate crimes are being under-reported. What is the police going to do about it?’ ” said Damptey, who was the executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, one of the key partners in building the online tool. “But everybody said there’s nothing wrong. But now the Hamilton police is saying there’s a 35 per cent increase in hate crimes.”
Hate-crime incidents dipped after 2019, but have risen sharply in the last few years, according to Hamilton police data.
In the spring, Hamilton police reported a 35 per cent increase in hate incidents in the city — 108 in 2021 compared to 80 the previous year. Hate-crime arrests in Hamilton tripled, according to police statistics, jumping to 21 from eight.
But the true picture of the number of hate-related incidents in Hamilton is somewhat opaque due to the narrow definitions of a hate crime, quirks in data collection by police and Statistics Canada, and a policerecognized reluctance among many to report incidents to them. The new tool will allow people to report an incident without going to the police.
Damptey said the online tool, which is being launched in conjunction with McMaster University’s department of social sciences and the City of Hamilton’s AntiRacism Resource Centre, is an attempt to build a clearer picture of hate incidents in the city as well as providing help to people affected by racism.
He pointed to the recent act of racist vandalism at St. Agnes Catholic
Elementary School in Stoney Creek as an incident where the online tool could help. A swastika and a homophobic slur were spraypainted on the side of the building over the weekend.
Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, but Damptey said the new tool will provide more than a database for incidents like this.
“In this case, someone posted a photo of this on Twitter, hoping that someone would see it,” he said. “Whereas, with our platform, anyone can post their picture, upload their video and someone will reach out to them immediately.”
The announcement of the imminent launch of the community hate-incident reporting tool was the centrepiece of the news conference, which also marked the 63rd anniversary of a massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa, when police shot and killed 69 people at an antiapartheid demonstration.