Hamilton, Ontario skyline
Hamilton, Ontario skylineiStock

With a surge of anti-Semitism and hate incidents occurring across Canada, the city of Hamilton, Ontario is once again taking action.

Earlier in the month, Hamilton city council unanimously voted to ban hate symbols, such as the swastika and the Confederate flag, from city property.

Now, Hamilton police are creating a new unit to help them respond to hate incidents, including cases of anti-Semitism.

The Hate Crime Case Review Team will partner police with community agencies to beef up the department’s ability to combat hate, reported the Hamilton Jewish News.

The goal is for the agencies to work with the unit to review cases, draft recommendations for tackling hate and give advice on how to train front line officers to best deal with anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.

The city's new police chief Frank Bergen said that his police force is serious about combating the rising incidents of anti-Semitism and hate the city is seeing.

They are asking for community input into the new program.

B'nai Brith Canada recorded 2,610 anti-Semitic incidents in Canada in 2020, the fifth year in a row that anti-Semitic incidents hit a record high.

The 2020 figures from Statistics Canada show a similar trend, including for Hamilton, with Jews being more frequently targeted than other groups.

In 2020, there were 80 hate crime incidents recorded by Hamilton police, with the Jewish and Black communities victims more often than others.

The new unit will “work collaboratively to develop comprehensive recommendations to improve outcomes for hate crime victims. The scope of the review will include an internal and external analysis of hate crime investigations, as well as looking at policies, procedures, and training. Organizational representatives on the Hate Crime Case Review Team would also have a background in anti-racism, anti-oppression practices,” said a statement.

The CEO of the Hamilton Jewish Federation Gustavo Rymberg told the Jewish News that the program is a “good idea” with potential but they are taking a wait and see approach until it is actually put into practice.

“Right now we don’t know lot of detail about this program. Despite that, we will participate and whatever they need me to do I will be there,” he said.

“Fixing hate crime takes more than just our local police,” he added.