BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – A University of Alberta student says the outpouring of support from Edmontonians in the wake of an alleged gaybashing has given him a change of heart about leaving the area.
Between 200 and 250 people joined 26-year-old Chevi Rabbit on a "Hate to Hope" march from the site of the attack, in which three men in a car allegedly shouted homophobic slurs at Rabbit. One of the men eventually got out of the car, physically assaulted him and took his iPhone near the university's campus July 19, Rabbit alleged.
Marchers, many wearing purple, moved off from 110 St and 84 Ave and ended up at the Alberta legislature, where a rally with speakers — including Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk and former city councillor Michael Phair, who is openly gay — was held.
"I wanted to start the march here because basically it's like reclaiming this area . . . for myself to feel comfortable again," Rabbit told CBC before the march.
"People need to rethink how they look at people who are queer in Edmonton," Phair said. "Many people have, but it's a long way to go."
"What happened to Chevi and that kind of harassment needs to end," Phair told the gathering. "It's over. Stop it. We're moving ahead. Get on the train and move with us."
There have been no arrests reported. Edmonton hate-crimes police officers are still investigating.
The Edmonton Journal has video coverage of the march.