The COVID-19 pandemic and the police killing of George Floyd in the U.S. led to the increase of hate crimes reported in Toronto last year, according to a report by Toronto police.

The Annual Hate Crime Statistical Report released Thursday found that there were 210 reported hate crimes to Toronto police in 2020, up from the 139 incidents in 2019.

It represents a 51 per cent increase in hate crime reporting in the city. The report stated that the Jewish, Black, LGBTQ2S+ and Asian communities were the most victimized groups.

“Hate crimes not only victimize an individual but also the entire group they identify with. We know this can have a long-lasting impact on the diverse communities we serve, resulting in increased isolation, stress and vulnerability,” said Toronto police Interim Chief James Ramer in a statement.

“I want to make it clear, one hate crime is one too many. As a service, we have taken steps to address this concerning increase by expanding the capacity of our dedicated Hate Crime Unit who are specialized in investigating these crimes.”

The number of anti-Black hate crimes reported to police rose from 13 in 2019 to 43 in 2020. According to the report, they saw an increase of hate incidents against the Black community days following the death of Floyd in May in Minneapolis.

Reported hate crimes targeting Asians, specifically the Chinese community, also increased with the majority of the victims being assaulted. Police said many were subjected to derogatory comments and were either punched, pushed or spat on by suspects.

Of the 15 anti-Asian hate crimes reported in 2020, five involved suspects who said China is to blame for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of the reported hate crimes were motivated by religion, with 82 incidents, the report said. In 63 of those incidents, the victims were from the Jewish community, while nine were from the Muslim community.

According to the report, 109 of the 210 hate crimes reported involved mischief to property, primarily vandalism and graffiti. Most of the mischief incidents targeted the Jewish and the Black communities.

The report also looked into hate crime incidents on the Internet. There were 21 online hate incidents in 2020, with 42 per cent involving the disruption of virtual meetings.

“At times, these platforms are utilized to disseminate hate propaganda. Users are able to spread hate, and misinformation, in an accessible and instantaneous way to a far-reaching global audience,” the report stated.

While many of the hate crimes reported occurred without the victim present as in mischief cases, the report found that most suspects identified were men, specifically those between 26 and 40 years old.

Police arrested 41 people and laid 77 hate-motivated criminal charges in 2020, the report said.

Police acknowledged that many hate crimes often are unreported. To address this, they said officers have taken part in training, education, and community outreach initiatives.

“We remain committed to working collaboratively within our Service and with our community partners, in a transparent and inclusive way, to build trust and encourage the reporting of hate crimes,” Ramer said.