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Trial kicks off for alleged racist incident in Richmond cafe

The couple is representing themselves against charges related to an alleged racist incident at Rocanini Coffee Roasters in Steveston.
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Members of the Stop Anti-Asian Hate Crimes advocacy group and MP Parm Bains attended Richmond Provincial Court on Thursday morning for the trial of an alleged racist incident that happened in Steveston in 2021.

The trial for an alleged racist incident at Rocanini Coffee Roasters in Steveston finally began on Thursday morning after being adjourned in April.

Astrid Maria Secreve and Michel Jean-Jacque Berthiaume appeared in person to represent themselves in the trial. The couple is facing mischief charges for allegedly pouring coffee on the ground, making racist comments and throwing a cup at a Chinese barista.

More than a dozen protesters were present outside the courthouse holding signs that said "End racism" and "Hate is a virus." 

Ally Wang, spokesperson for the Stop Anti-Asian Hate Crimes advocacy group, said that the incident happened 18 months ago and a conclusion is needed for the sake of justice and also for the accused.

"We hope we'll get a result tomorrow," she said, adding that the case is significant because not a lot of anti-Asian incidents are tried in court.

Wang recalled that Secreve had given her "the finger" when the couple made their appearance for the initial trial date in April.

"An Asian reporter from another media outlet told me that Secreve gave her the finger. I couldn't believe it happened in [the courthouse]. I said, 'How is that possible?'" she said.

"But when I went inside after 10 minutes or so, she gave me the finger as well."

Wang said she had reported the incident to police immediately, but as soon as the officer turned to look, Secreve put her hand down.

Parm Bains, MP for Steveston-Richmond East, also sat in to listen to the trial before setting off to another engagement.

The Richmond News will continue to provide updates on the trial as it proceeds.