Nanaimo’s Chinese community says it is under attack once again after eight bus stop benches featuring Chinese real estate agents were vandalized with racist messages.

The benches were spray-painted over the weekend with hateful phrases like “Go away” and racist terms used toward Chinese people.

One bench was tagged with the message “Not Welcom [sic]” and had a swastika painted over a photograph of the realtor.

Nanaimo RCMP confirm they’re investigating the vandalism, but some in the community are calling for a probe into what they’re calling a hate crime.

“We have freedom to live here, we have a right to live here,” said Jin Jang Zhang of the Nanaimo Chinese Community Association. “If you are talking about human rights, we want you to respect the human rights of everyone – respect the rights of the Chinese.”

Xu Sun, who has been selling real estate in the city for five years, said he was shocked to see his own advertisements defaced.

“I was surprised and disappointed,” he said. “My opinion is that Nanaimo is a friendly and peaceful place. I don’t think this should happen in our city.”

The company responsible for the bench ads says it is now cleaning up the defaced signs at a cost of up to $1,000.

It’s just the latest attack on the Chinese community in Nanaimo.

Several weeks ago, leaflets discouraging foreign investment were distributed in a neighbourhood close to where the benches were vandalized.

With the title “Putting Canada First,” the leaflets warned residents that a property “nightmare” caused by foreign investors would soon be coming to Nanaimo.

Bill McKay, the city’s mayor, has spoken out against the racist and discriminatory actions.

“These are hate crimes pure and simple,” he said. “We need to prosecute these people to the fullest extent of the law. This is not acceptable.”

McKay pointed to the fact that the local Snuneymuxw First Nation band has been inviting people to its territory for years, and that the majority of residents will not stand for the attacks.

Police say they are working with the local Multicultural Society and are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Jett Bassi