Vancouver police say they are not investigating a vicious slashing on Davie St last week as a gaybashing.
Const Tim Fanning says there is no indication that a man slashed in the neck with a broken bottle outside The Fountainhead Pub Oct 18 was attacked because of his sexuality.
In fact, Fanning says, it is not known if the Vancouver man or his attacker are gay or straight.
What is known is that the men were part of two groups which had been antagonizing each other as they left Celebrities only minutes before the attack.
Celebrities manager Ross Pascuzzo says the club had closed for the night and five doormen were moving people out of the building on the 1000-block of Davie when two groups of people–one with three men, the other with two men and a woman–began to argue. That led to shoving, he says.
At that point, he continues, the doormen got between the two groups in an attempt to the defuse situation, which occurred at about 3:15 am.
Once the groups were outside, the doormen tried to send them in opposite directions, one group toward Thurlow St, the other toward Burrard.
But “two guys began mixing it up,” Pascuzzo says.
The pair crossed the street and went at each other again.
That’s where it got ugly.
“One guy had a bottle or a glass,” Pascuzzo says. “The guy whacked the other guy over the head and cut his hand pretty badly.”
Then the aggressor allegedly slashed the 25-year-old victim in the neck with shards and ran.
Undaunted, the bleeding man pursued his attacker, making it as far as Shoppers Drug Mart one block west.
“He collapsed in a pool of blood,” Pascuzzo says.
The victim, whose identity has not been released, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Fanning says.
Now, with so many witnesses, police have something of a confusing situation on their hands.
“There’s so many differing descriptions of who the suspect is that we have to go back and re-interview everybody,” Fanning says.
“I don’t think this is a gaybashing,” he adds.
The Vancouver Police Department does not, however, inquire about peoples’ sexuality when investigating such assaults.
Xtra West had wanted to talk directly with the bouncers who witnessed the attack but their boss wouldn’t allow it. Pascuzzo, a former cop himself, says the bouncers talking with Xtra West could jeopardize the police investigation.
The club manager is, however, distressed at the turn of events. “Celebrities has never had a fight,” he says. “This is the first kind of incident outside the club.”
The gay bars and clubs on Davie St are well known for being fight-free establishments that rarely require police intervention to keep the peace among patrons.
While Pascuzzo doesn’t believe the men came from the Granville nightclub strip–where fights and brawls among straight patrons are more common–Velvet Steel of West Enders Against Violence Everywhere (WEAVE) believes the Granville strip cannot go without blame in this situation.
Steel says despite repeated entreaties to the police department for a greater police presence on Davie St, resources are routinely routed to Granville.
“Where are the cops?” she asks. “It’s very rare that I see a cop on Davie. The police have made it clear their focus is on the Granville strip. That’s inappropriate.”
Steel says gaybashings in the Village, as well as incidents such as last week’s slashing, are prime reasons police should have a visible presence on not only Davie but also Denman.
A visible police presence in the Village might also deter people from cruising up and down Davie St in cars yelling slurs at members of the queer community, Steel adds.
The victim of a queerbashing assault herself four years ago, the transsexual woman was attacked by a group of teenagers as she and her husband walked home through the West End.
WEAVE has repeatedly asked the police force to assign officers to walk a beat in the Village.
That hasn’t happened, Steel says.
However, the police department has committed to getting more officers on foot patrol in the area.
Sgt Walter Argent told Xtra West last July that it would take about 18 months to get more officers onto the street as time was needed to hire and train new recruits then just joining the force.