Man charged with incitement of hatred, mischief over anti-Asian graffiti in Vancouver's Chinatown

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Yves Castonguay, 47, is wanted on a B.C.-wide warrant after failing to appear in court on charges of public incitement of hatred and mischief to property, the Vancouver Police Department said. (Vancouver Police Department - image credit)
Yves Castonguay, 47, is wanted on a B.C.-wide warrant after failing to appear in court on charges of public incitement of hatred and mischief to property, the Vancouver Police Department said. (Vancouver Police Department - image credit)

A 47-year-old man is wanted for arrest after he was charged with one count of public incitement of hatred and one count of mischief to property in relation to hateful graffiti at the Chinese Cultural Centre, Vancouver police say.

A B.C.-wide warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yves Castonguay, according to a release from the Vancouver Police Department.

The graffiti was discovered on April 2, 2020, after a suspect walked into the courtyard of the centre in the city's Chinatown and wrote "disturbing, racist remarks toward the Asian community on four large glass windows," police said.

The centre, located on Columbia Street between Keefer and East Pender streets, was founded in 1973 to help preserve and promote Chinese cultural heritage. It offers classes and walking tours, and organizes exhibits.

Hateful graffiti at the site is just one example of an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination since the start of the pandemic, police said.

"It has been a tough year for the East Asian community," said Const. Tania Visintin in the release.

"We want to reassure the community that our investigators are working tirelessly to hold people responsible for these hate crimes."

Police released photos of a suspect after several large windows at Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre were sprayed with what they described as 'hateful' graffiti on April 2, 2020.
Police released photos of a suspect after several large windows at Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre were sprayed with what they described as 'hateful' graffiti on April 2, 2020.(Vancouver Police Department)

After 12 anti-Asian hate crimes were reported to police in Vancouver in 2019, 98 were registered in 2020 — an increase of more than 700 per cent, Visintin said.

'Serious, specific charge'

VPD said Castonguay was charged on March 30 for one count of public incitement of hatred and one count of mischief to property, but failed to attend his court date.

"The criminal charge for public incitement of hatred is a serious, specific charge that is rarely used. We are pleased that investigators were able to secure it," said Visitin.

Police are asking anyone who sees Castonguay or knows of his whereabouts to contact investigators.

The VPD is also asking anyone victimized by a hate crime, or who witnesses one, to call 911.