Canada Day celebrations didn’t exactly go according to plan for the gay men involved in at least two — and possibly three — separate altercations.
The most severe left Ottawa DJ Shawn Mercier hospitalized with a concussion and a nasty black eye. That case remains under investigation as Capital Xtra goes to press.
Mercier, who goes by the moniker DJ Extreem, was on his way to a Boston Pizza on St Laurent Blvd at approximately 8:30pm Jul 1 with four of his friends, when they ran into a group of strangers, who engaged them in a verbal confrontation that quickly escalated into a verbal, then physical, assault.
There is no indication as to how the confrontation began.
Detective John Byers of the Ottawa Police Service says that there were nine aggressors involved in the initial verbal confrontation, including the man who delivered a punch to Mercier’s face which knocked him out — and onto the sidewalk.
“At this time we are not allowed to release any information about who the aggressors may be, but we are actively pursuing leads,” says Byers.
He says that the hate crimes unit has not identified the incident as an example of gaybashing, and that the dust up happened by chance.
“The victim and the other four males he was with weren’t holding hands or wearing any buttons or indicators that they were gay,” says Byers.
“If the aggressors had been sitting and waiting to [attack] specific people in a certain area of town, we could probably say yeah, it was most likely gaybashing — but it’s hard to say in this particular case.”
Mercier however, writing to Capital Xtra, noted that the aggressors called him a “faggot” repeatedly during the verbal assault.
“I don’t know if they knew I was gay, but the police are figuring that out,” he says.
Mercier is currently recovering at home and is in the process of talking to the police about the incident.
The same evening — but unrelated — an altercation took place at Centretown Pub at approximately 8pm, when a customer sitting on the patio yelled out “nice ass” to a male passerby, according to Centretown Pub staffer Chris Larabie.
The complimentary catcall from another male enraged the passerby, who then began a screaming match with the customer, says Larabie.
Fearing that the loud, angry confrontation would turn into something much more violent, a bystander quickly dialed 9-1-1. The passerby fled the scene.
It appears that the bystander saw where the verbal argument was headed, and took action to stop it before someone was seriously injured.
The incident is “not at this point” being investigated as a hate crime and no one is in custody, according to Constable Alain Boucher of the Ottawa Police Service.
“At this point, we don’t know where it is going to go from here,” he says, refusing to comment on what charges might be laid.
Following the two Canada Day incidents, a man says he witnessed another unrelated attack in Gatineau Jul 2.
The message board on Squirt.org lit up after a poster wrote that he was on a University of Quebec bike trail at around 6pm when a group of teenagers came out of nowhere and attacked a man who was naked, masturbating in the bushes.
Apparently the three teenagers, who arrived on the scene on a small motorcycle, threw rocks at the man, and one even hit him across the head with a bike helmet.
“I helped him by tripping the guy with the rocks when he charged on him, and containing the other two [while they] calmed down,” writes the poster.
“This doesn’t need to happen if we all stick more together out there.”
He warns other Squirt members in his post to be careful when in the area, as there seems to be teens hanging around there, giving guys who are there cruising a hard time.
Calls made to the Gatineau Police by Capital Xtra were not returned, though it is unlikely that this incident was reported to the police.
Failure by the police to take gaybashings seriously discourages gays from reporting violence and undermines those who actually do go to the police.