BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – A march and rally against hate crime will be held Aug 2 in Edmonton following the alleged gaybashing of a University of Alberta student.
Chevi Rabbit was walking near campus July 19 when three men in a car pulled up and allegedly started yelling homophobic slurs at him. One of the men allegedly got out of the car and pinned the student to the ground in a headlock. Rabbit was cut on his hand, sustained bruises to his knees, and was robbed of his iPhone.
The Aug 2 protest will move off at 6pm from the scene of the attack at 110 St and 84 Ave, proceed through the University of Alberta campus (with marchers urged to hold hands with a person of the same sex) and on to the Legislature Building, where the rally will take place. Marchers are encouraged to wear purple.
Within days of the attack, Rabbit posted a YouTube video in which he spoke about the shock of the "bad ordeal" he endured.
"They were saying 'faggot' to me, the look on their face . . . they were like, 'faggot, you're a faggot, faggot,' non-stop," the 26-year-old alleges as he recalled the incident. "They were saying it so loudly, and then the area was populated with so many people — there was a group of people playing volleyball, and there was people around jogging; there was a group of Edmontonians having beers in their yard. It's a very nice neighbourhood — and I was just in shock. I couldn't believe I was being called 'faggot,' and I didn't know what to do," Rabbit recounts.
He says he told the men "thank you" and tried to walk away. But one of the men came running at him, grabbed him, threw him on the ground, stole his phone and ran back to the car, which fled the scene, Rabbit alleges.
Some people who saw the attack came to Rabbit's assistance. Police arrived on the scene quickly and were very helpful, Rabbit said, lending him a phone to call his mother.
"It's not right. We should be allowed to be different, and our society should embrace our differences," he said.
Despite the experience, he says, there's a lot of good in the world, pointing to those who rallied around him after the attack. "It could have been a lot worse if they weren't there."
Rabbit encouraged people to come out to the Aug 2 march and rally.
"We encourage you to bring your family, friends to come out, 'cause we all want to live in a safe environment. We all want to have a safe community, and it takes a whole community for change to happen," Rabbit concluded.
So far, there've been no arrests. As part of their investigations, police are looking for a silver 2000 Acura with a spoiler.
Video courtesy: Chevi Rabbit