Two East Asian women have fallen victims to separate attacks in Vancouver last week.
The first incident, which involved a White male assailant, occurred near Granville and Helmcken streets around 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 4.
The suspect allegedly punched the first victim in the face, knocking her to the ground. She is in her early 20s, according to the Vancouver Police Department, which held a press conference on Nov. 6.
The suspect is said to be between 20 to 30 years old, approximately 6 feet tall, has short hair and a slim build. He wore a red shirt with yellow stripes, dark pants and sneakers at the time of the incident.
Jared Miller, who works at a nearby clothing store, took the victim in for refuge.
“I was in the store and I heard screaming and crying,”
Miller told CTV News
. “I just wanted to create a safe space for them, being out in public after that happened is really hard to do…”
The second incident took place the next day near West Georgia Street and Citadel Parade. The victim, who was walking in the area, was spat on by another male suspect. She is in her early 40s, according to police.
The suspect stands 5 feet 6 inches and has dark brown, shoulder-length hair. He wore dark, baggy clothing at the time of the attack and continued on his way.
Police said the incidents appeared “completely random.” There is no relation between the victim and suspect in both cases.
“Our hate crime investigators are engaged and assisting with both investigations,”
spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin said, according to CBC News
. “The investigations are still in the early stages but we are not ruling out any motives, including if there was a bias, prejudice or hate element to the assaults.”
Visintin said that while these cases are not being considered hate crimes at this time, spitting is considered assault regardless of the pandemic.
have surged in Vancouver since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first nine months of 2020, hate crimes against the community increased by a whopping 878%
, according to an official city report.
“On our latest key performance indicators report, we did indicate that hate crimes were up 116%, and those anti-Asian hate crime incidents specifically have risen 878%,” the spokesperson added.
Anyone with information related to last week’s incidents is urged to call 911 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.