Western student victim of hate crime
By Kelly Marcella
Last Saturday night, a female Western student was the victim of a hate-motivated crime when she was punched in the face by a man as she left a downtown bar.
After leaving Club 181 on King Street, the victim, who has chosen to remain anonymous, waited outside to catch a cab. As she was walking in front of the bar, the victim noticed a man standing against the building nearby wearing a shirt with skulls and some sort of writing she later determined to be German.
She said she was curious as to the meaning of the man's shirt and questioned him about it. At that point, she said she noticed a second man coming towards her from behind. According to the victim, the second man said, "What the fuck are you talking to him for?".
She said she responded by telling them she was leaving, but the two attackers grabbed her. She said the man wearing the skull shirt punched her in the face. The assailants began to walk away when she said the first man turned back and said, "And the shirt says 'I hate mother-fucking niggers'."
As the men continued to walk away, the victim said she returned to Club 181 to find friends. After finding four friends at the club, the group began walking to a friend's car when she noticed her former attackers following her.
According to the victim, the group crossed the street and searched for police to help. After driving around for a short time, they found officers of the London Police Department in front of Club Phoenix on Richmond Street.
The victim said the officers told her friend they could not leave their current position and they would have to call elsewhere for help.
As a result, the victim returned to a friend's house where she called 9-1-1. She said a London Police officer told her that her assailants' comments warranted a hate crime charge, not merely assault.
As of yet, the victim said the two assailants have not been caught, but the police told her they will be searching for them, especially over the coming weekend.
According to London Police spokesperson Paul Martin, hate crimes in London have not seen a significant increase over the past year. Martin, however, was unaware of the incident which occurred last Saturday.
Wendy McGowan, spokesperson for the University Police Department, said UPD does not receive many reports of hate crimes on campus, but encouraged victims to come forth and not be intimidated.
The number of Ontario hate crimes reported increased to 338 in 2001, from 204 in 2000, said Afroze Edwards, communications officer for the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The 66 per cent increase fell mostly under crimes motivated by religion, Edwards said, adding crimes motivated by sexual orientation also saw an increase.
"I'm still kind of scared to go out. It was very traumatic," said the victim of Saturday's attack, adding she wanted people to be aware of her situation.