Photo: Vancouver Police Department
Yves Castonguay will spend 79 days in jail on time served for demolishing anti-Chinese graffiti at Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Center.
A man who pleaded guilty to misconduct in connection with hateful graffiti at Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Center will spend an additional 79 days in jail in addition to his sentence.
Yves Castonguay was charged with two offenses – one for public incitement to hatred and one for insulting property used for religious worship, according to the Vancouver Police Department.
Castonguay, 47, pleaded guilty to the charge of assault on October 12. The second charge was dropped.
“He insulted the Chinese Cultural Center with his racist disgrace, and this behavior was motivated by bias … and hatred of people of Chinese ethnicity and descent,” said Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Harban Dhillon, condemning the behavior as “contemptible and hateful.” ”
“The words he used were morally reprehensible and should shock the conscience of society.”
She said Castonguay suggested violence against people based on their perceived ethnicity.
“His message was intended to be seen by the public,” the judge said.
The charges came after the Chinese Cultural Center in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was vandalized on April 2, 2020.
Crown prosecutor Mark Crisp told Dhillon that Castonguay went to the center with a permanent felt marker.
When Crisp recited the words Castonguay wrote, Dhillon stopped him at one point and said she did not want a specific anti-Chinese race name used in court.
“May I ask you to use the ‘c-word’?” I do not intend to repeat that word, “she said.
In a statement on the impact on the victim, Center Director Bill Kwok said Castonguay’s words had touched the heart of Vancouver’s Chinese community. He said the words reminded him of how “racism is alive and well in Vancouver.” He also shared his personal experiences of racism as a young man in Winnipeg.
“I had to fight because I had the wrong skin color and my eyes slanted,” Kwok said. “All the feelings of an unwanted citizen came back when I read your message.”
Kwok said he hoped it was a joke. The emotional scars of Castonguay’s words “will last a lifetime,” he added.
Castonguay, meanwhile, did not seem surprised by his arrest. The Crown’s prosecutor said he asked police, “is this about the graffiti?”
Castonguay wrote a letter of apology to the court, blaming what he heard in the community and in the media for his behavior.
In a statement to the court, Castonguay said: “I am not a hateful person. I do not hate Asian people.”
“I aired out,” he said. “If I could take it all back, I would do it.”
The judge responded by saying it “was not a spontaneous outburst.”
“He targeted an honorable community institution at the heart of historic Chinese society,” the judge said, noting that he did so at a time when Chinese society was being attacked at the start of the pandemic.
At the time of the offense, the Vancouver Police Department had seen a 717% increase in crimes with an element of hatred, bias and prejudice, with people of East Asian descent being the primary targets.
The Crown’s lawyer said the fear created by Castonguay’s words led to the closure of the center, where the doors remain locked.
Castonguay has been excluded from the area around the city center.
“Chinese society and visitors need to feel safe and regain that space,” the judge said.
The Crown told the court that Castonguay’s criminal record consists of 148 convictions, including more than 50 property crimes and 24 violent crimes.
The 79 days come in addition to 161 days in custody, for which he receives 161 days of credit. Castonguay was also sentenced to three years probation.