Toronto police investigating the incident as hate crime.
Neighbours in Toronto’s Cabbagetown area are condemning anti-Asian sentiment in their community by showing kindness to a local variety store owner who became the latest victim in the growing number of Asian hate crimes.
On Tuesday, March 23, a racial slur directed at the Asian community was discovered on the building of Stanley’s Variety at 237 Gerrard St. E. Officers from 51 Division were contacted and painted over the vandalism.
“I WAS CRYING. I COULDN’T SLEEP … I’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED RACISM LIKE THIS BEFORE.
Rick Matthews, the executive director of the Cabbagetown Business Improvement Area, spoke with the store’s owner, Xun Guo, after the racist message was found.
“They’re just trying to make a living. They can’t understand why someone would do this,” he said.
“Businesses are already struggling with the pandemic, let alone having to deal with racism.”
“There’s no place for racism in our community. Anti-Asian sentiment is not welcome here … We, as a business and residential community, won’t stand for it.”
Guo, who has owned the convenience store for a year, said it’s been an upsetting past few days.
“I don’t know why they did this … I feel so bad, so terrible,” she told toronto.com.
“I was crying. I couldn’t sleep … I’ve never experienced racism like this before.
“LOTS OF PEOPLE CAME HERE AND SUPPORTED US. SOME PEOPLE EVEN DROPPED OFF FLOWERS FOR ME,” SHE SAID WITH A SMILE.
Originally from central China, Guo said the kindness the community has shown her and her family has helped lift their spirits.
“Lots of people came here and supported us. Some people even dropped off flowers for me,” she said with a smile.
“I feel good now … I’m feeling better. I feel stronger.”
In an act of kindness, days after the unfortunate incident, Matthews and local resident Jennifer Walker helped to paint over Stanley Variety’s walls, which had also been marked with vandalism.
“When (racism) happens to one of us, it happens to all of us,” said Walker, who started a neighbourhood graffiti eradication program last spring.
“It actually raised the hair on my arm to hear this happened in this community. It’s heartbreaking.”
Two days later, Toronto police received a report of a second act of anti-Asian vandalism at Church and Gould street. Investigators believe both incidents are connected.
Canadaloves.ca spoke with Matthews about the racist incident. Read our interview here.