York police appeal for witnesses after Richmond Hill restaurant vandalized

By Lucas Casaletto

The York Regional Police hate crime unit is trying to determine who has been targeting a Richmond Hill restaurant.

Police were called last Wednesday regarding offensive social media posts about the “Pepper Wok” on West Beaver Creek Road, at Highway 7.

Police said further investigation revealed “Pepper Wok” had posted a sign in its window referencing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has since been removed.

Then sometime between 7 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. the next morning, someone vandalized the storefront with spray paint.

“York Regional Police does not tolerate hate crime in any form,” Sgt. Andy Pattenden said.

“Those who victimize individuals based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or mental or physical disability will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Pattenden said the hate crime unit took over the investigation after it was determined the context of the sign upset some members of the community.

“The sign that was in the window itself of the restaurant, it caused some concern for people… which then resulted in the post, which was also very concerning on social media,” the Sergeant said.

Investigators haven’t said what the sign or signs said and are working to determine if the vandalism is related to that.

According to unconfirmed reports, the restaurant’s owner had posted a sign on the front window showing support for the Hong Kong movement.

Police refused to comment on the matter.

Hong Kong’s protests started in June against plans to allow extradition to mainland China. The bill was first introduced in April and would have allowed for criminal suspects to be deported to mainland China under certain circumstances.

The bill was later repealed in September but demonstrations continue and now demand full democracy and an inquiry into police actions.

Clashes between police and activists have become increasingly violent in recent months, with police firing live bullets and protesters attacking officers, in some cases, by throwing petrol bombs.

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