Politics

Senior attacked with bear spray in Chinatown, VPD investigate


Vancouver Police say they are investigating after a senior was attacked with bear spray in Chinatown Friday morning. Police say the attack appears to be racially motivated.

According to police, the 87-year-old victim, a Chinatown resident, was out for his morning walk Friday when he was attacked around 11:40 a.m. Police say the victim was standing at the bus stop near Pender and Columbia streets when a stranger came up to him, made racist comments, and bear-sprayed him in the face.

A bystander who witnessed the incident stopped to help the victim. Police say the attacker fled and has yet to be identified.

Police are looking for a man 30 to 40-year-old who is about 6 feet tall. He was wearing a black jacket, dark-coloured pants, a grey baseball cap, grey shoes with red trim and white soles and was carrying a black backpack.

Suspect in Chinatown senior attack. (Courtesy: VPD)

In a statement from VPD, they say the victim was traumatized but has non-life threatening injuries.

“Every indication is that this incident was completely unprovoked and may have been fueled by anti-Asian hate,” said Cst. Tania Visintin.

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Police are now investigating whether Friday’s attack is related to offensive graffiti that appeared this week on the red gates outside Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, located just meters away from where the senior was assaulted. The graffiti of the word, “Shhh” in white paint, was interpreted by many in the community as a backlash to Chinatown residents who have been increasingly speaking up about crime and safety concerns in their neighbourhood.

VPD says between 2019 and 2021, there was a 300 per cent increase in reported graffiti incidents and a 425 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crime incidents in Chinatown.

“People who live and work in Chinatown deserve to feel safe, valued, and respected,” added Cst. Visintin. “Violent and unprovoked attacks, rampant graffiti, and street disorder are appalling, and these incidents continue to erode peoples’ sense of safety.”

In response to residents’ concerns Vancouver Police have increased patrols in Chinatown, and say they are working closely with merchants and residents in the community to address community concerns like graffiti, street disorder, and racist incidents. Investigators from VPD’s Hate Crimes team and Major Crimes Section are reviewing evidence from Friday’s assault.

“Given the time of day and the location of this incident, we believe there were witnesses who have not yet come forward. We also believe there will be people who recognize the suspect and can help us identify him.”

Anyone who has information or anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to call investigators at 604-717-4034.



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