It didn’t take long. Soon after the decision came down Dec 10 finding Danny Rao not guilty, and allowing Ryan Cran to go home for Christmas prior to sentencing, you, dear readers, were phoning Little Sister’s asking if there was a protest you could come to.
For a weekend, the calls came as angry gays and lesbians waited for someone-anyone-to call the demonstration.
Nobody called it.
Puh-leeze. You know, that’s the thing about a protest: anyone can call it. It doesn’t have to be Jim Deva, who is in the midst of Christmas sales right now-and is already doing more than enough on behalf of this community. When Aaron Webster was killed in November 2001, somebody who had never before stepped up to bat in our community took it upon himself to organize a community march and rally. It took Murray Bilida only five hours to organize the biggest gay demonstration this city has ever see. He made up a quick poster and flyers, with the help of a few friends, distributed them throughout the gay community, including in the gay bars and on the hydro poles. Then he called the police to inform them of the march and accepted MLA Lorne Mayencourt’s offer to organize a sound system and a stage.
Five hours. Not bad, eh? Any one of us can do this when we feel strongly about something. We don’t have to rely on the usual core group of activists. Our community has grown up in the past few years, partly as we’ve confronted the reality of our lives in the wake of Webster’s death. A whole new generation of activists has emerged to work on policing and other community activities. But there’s lots of room for others to step up to bat for a one-time activity-like organizing a protest-or for longer-term work, like trying to make policing work for our community, fighting censorship, starting new sports teams, and so on.
Still, Jim Deva has called a protest, one he can organize after the Christmas rush. And you’re invited.
And I’ll wager you’ll want to be at the Sun, Jan 23 event to blow off some steam.
Judging by the calls and letters we’re getting at Xtra West, our community is mighty pissed off with a whole host of issues to do with the Webster trial. The focus of Deva’s protest is tell Crown counsel Greg Weber and Justice Mary Humphries that our community expects a significant jail term and a hate crime designation at the Jan 27 sentencing of Ryan Cran. Certainly, those are two great reasons for a protest right there.
But there are other reasons to protest, reasons that have come to light over the past three years and in readers’ letters.
You might want to show up and vent your anger if:
You’re unhappy that the youths already convicted in Webster’s death might be let out early. Perhaps you want them to serve every day of their already short sentence;
You’re sick of our community being beaten up in the street;
You’re furious at the homophobia that queer youth endure in schools and the lack of concrete action by the provincial government;
You’re angry at how the police brass took our community for a ride after Webster’s killing, promising a new era of cooperation, but in fact ignoring our demands for genuine community policing;
You’re furious at how seldom police cars patrol the Davie-Denman-Robson-Nelson corridor during gaybashing high season-summer weekends;
You’re livid that Crown counsel won’t use the word ‘gaybashing’ in the Webster cases, to prepare for a hate crime designation at sentencing;
You’re frustrated that so far only one judge of three has managed to understand the sexual energy in the air that night, that the accused’s hunt for “peeping toms” was really all about targeting any homos they could find.
Pick your reason. Let’s vent. Let’s show the Crown and judge that we want Ryan Cran put away long enough to meditate on how wrong it is to kill someone because they are gay. And we want real change in the future.
Sun, Jan 23, 1 pm.
Corner of Nelson & Hornby Sts.
Gareth Kirkby is Managing Editor for Xtra.