Shoreline assaults and harassment in Georgina Township targeting mostly -- although not exclusively -- Asian anglers are being investigated as hate crimes, York police said yesterday.
"Hate crimes investigators are actively involved in all of them," York Police Staff-Sgt. Ricky Veerappan said. "I can assure you we take these incidents very seriously."
Police are looking into at least four incidents in and around the Lake Simcoe area since April, all of which involve people being pushed into the water, often with their fishing gear and personal belongings tossed in as well.
Some of the incidents involved racial slurs. People in the area refer to the practice as "nippertipping" and say it has been going on for years.
In the most serious incident, a confrontation happened which led to a car chase and a crash, in which a young man was thrown from the car and critically injured on Sept. 16.
Police have charged a 20-year-old with criminal negligence in that case.
In another case, a 19-year-old faces assault charges after an angler was shoved into the water.
Veerappan said hate crimes investigators were involved "from day one" in the September case and have since added the three other incidents to their workload.
"We're looking at the trend in all of this," he said. "We find this appalling."
And he said hate crimes officers are also looking into an incident in Georgina where cars were vandalized and anti-semitic and homophobic graffiti left behind.
Veerappan made the comments yesterday as he made an unscheduled appearance at a press conference organized by anti-racism advocates and members of the Asian community.
"This is really a sad reminder that racism is alive and well in Canada," Avvy Go, of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, said. "The message is, if you're Asian, don't go fishing."