The next thing he knew, he was under attack. It was broad daylight. There were witnesses, but Hsu says none of them lifted a finger to help.
It was in 2017.
Four years later, Hsu still remembers the impact of the unprovoked attack from abroad.
“Certainly for me there were times when it was difficult for me to feel like a right person in the world. Especially if I passed by the place – the intersection – where the assault happened, ”Hsu said.
“So I think there is absolutely one way that requires adjustment. “
‘Let that number in’
Hsu was a statistic in 2017, the victim of one of 4,048 assaults recorded by the Vancouver Police Department – a number that doesn’t really stand out in a year-over-year comparison from 2014 to 2019, a period that has seen the annual number of assaults in the city range from 3,920 to 4,535.
But over the past 12 months, Vancouver police said they were concerned enough about the frequency of the type of assault Hsu suffered – a random assault not provoked by a stranger – to dig deeper into the statistics.
A review of figures from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021 revealed around 1,555 attacks involving 1,705 victims during that time period.
“Let that figure come into play,” a police spokesperson wrote in a series of tweets. “The majority of the victims were just going about their business: shopping, walking or visiting our city. “
The details of the latest assaults cited by police are frightening: a man while shopping was slaughtered when he was attacked from behind; an “erratic and violent man” assaulted several people waiting for the bus; a stranger reached through an open car window to punch the driver in the nose before following and attacking an elderly man.
Const. Tania Visintin told the CBC that the three-month statistical review was prompted by anecdotal observations of officers comparing their notes at a daily morning meeting held to discuss the events of the previous night.
“As each day went by, it seemed like every day there was an attack of one or more stranger in one night,” she said.
“So we did statistics, but it was more of an investigation. “
4 victims per day
Visintin says police analysts defined an unprovoked attack as one in which the assailant and victim had no prior interaction, the initial encounter only lasted about 15 seconds, and the incident could be considered unreasonable given the circumstances of the assault.
A series of random attacks have made headlines over the past decade, including two separate incidents in 2012 – one involving a stabbing in a cafe and the other a brutal assault in the Downtown Eastside against three women aged 63, 79 and 87.
Both of these cases resulted in trials that shed light on the plight of mentally disordered offenders.
Police said 28% of suspects identified in the latest statistics appeared to be living with mental illness; 47% of the cases involved weapons and 28% of the victims were women.
Visintin says this is the first time the ministry has removed unprovoked alien attacks from the numbers for general assaults, so it’s hard to say whether the numbers are going up or down.
But the result is that four people a day are attacked by someone they don’t know in places as random as the violence itself, and police say that’s a cause for concern.
“There is no other underlying motive”
Fatima Jaffer was walking along the sea wall last May when an angry stranger threatened her before attacking and yelling at the others.
She was shocked, but as a resident of the West End she was not surprised.
She believes the lack of services and the isolation of COVID-19-related restrictions have put stress on marginalized people already struggling with mental illness.
She didn’t call the police because she didn’t want to make matters worse for the man.
Jaffer’s fears were confirmed when Vancouver police responded to calls from other victims and mistakenly handcuffed BC’s first black Supreme Court judge – who was right on the sea wall at the same time – in their search for a suspect half his age, but described as “dark skinned”.
Police then apologized to the judge and insisted it was not a racial profiling incident.
Jaffer says she believes unprovoked attacks on aliens is a serious issue the public should be concerned about. But she doesn’t think the answer is more police or a tougher approach.
Visintin says the police have a duty to inform the public of threats to their safety.
“As police, we are in the field of public safety, it is our mandate is to protect lives, to protect property,” she said.
“When we see this kind of trend, we have to report it. There is no other underlying motive for this. It is purely our job, to keep the public safe and informed. “
“It was easy for me to be cynical”
Video shot from a car captured Hsu’s attack on the corner of Main and King Edward. The clip shows the poet and creative writing teacher struggling to stay upright as a stranger pounces on him.
Hsu says he called for help, but no one came to his aid. After going public with his experience, he says he was inundated with messages of support from people who said they wished they could help.
Over the past few months we’ve noticed what appears to be an increase in unprovoked alien attacks, so we asked our strategy researchers to dive into the numbers.
What they found is concerning: more than four people a day are the targets of random, unprovoked assault.
He has since set up a consultancy service aimed at making counseling more accessible.
He says the response he received from others was overwhelming, but ultimately helped him regain his faith in humanity.
“I have a very strong feeling that being able to have some kind of support – to have all the support of the people around me after the assault – even though it took energy to deal with it, I think it took me. helped me readjust to become a normal person again, ”he said.
“I’m actually convinced it was necessary since it was easy for me to be cynical. “