Enough Is Enough!

Sean addressing press with Peter Ladner, Nash & Laura McDiarmid

Yesterday at 1:00 pm, Peter Ladner, Laura McDiarmid and I held a press conference to denounce the latest incident of gay-bashing that took place over the weekend. We held the event at the parking lot next to Shopper’s Drug Mart on Davie Street, the place I was gay-bashed twenty-five years ago, barely escaping with my life.

As Xtra West reports, this is not an isolated incident, but one in a string of assaults against gay men and women in recent years. Seventeen people were attacked after the last Pride parade by a man wielding a hammer, while gay businesses had to shut down for several hours after bomb threats.

Peter Ladner addressing media with Sean & Laura
Peter Ladner addressing media with Sean & Laura

Our community will not be intimidated, however, and we will fight back. Peter Ladner condemned the latest vicious attack and committed police resources to tamp down on this wanton violence. Peter has been a strong proponent of more community policing that would be invaluable in addressing this problem in Davie Village.

Laura McDiarmid, Parks Board candidate and longstanding champion of gay rights, also spoke eloquently about the need to end this ongoing harassment and violence now.

Laura addressing media with Sean, Peter & Nash
Laura addressing media with Sean, Peter & Nash

We are calling on the police to continue their investigation of the assault as a hate crime and calling on the Crown to prosecute it as such if the facts bear out first-hand witness accounts. We are also calling on them to devote additional resources to Davie Village on weekends, and calling on the entire Vancouver community to speak out against this epidemic of hatred and violence that threatens the well-being of everyone in our city.

Davie Village Banners
Davie Village Banners

Further, we are calling for Davie Village to be designated a unique cultural, historic and entertainment district as a safe space for the GLBT Community. We must have one place in this city where we are safe to associate in public.

And finally, we are putting those with hatred and violence in their hearts on notice that open season on gays in this city is over. These crimes will not go unpunished and will face the full severity of the law.

My remarks follow:

Laura and Sean embracing after conference
Laura and Sean embracing after conference

My name is Sean Bickerton. I am running for Vancouver City Council. I am here today with Peter and Laura to demonstrate support for the courageous survivor of Sunday’s cowardly attack. And we are here to voice support for his lover, his friends, his family and his community, all of whom have been traumatized by this hateful assault.

I am also here to say: “Enough is enough!”

This is not an isolated incident: Aaron Webster. Jordan Smith. Tony McNaughton. Leigh Cousins. Russell Young. Shelby Tracey. Repeated bomb threats closing gay businesses. 17 people attacked by a man with a hammer at the last Pride parade … My good friend Nash, here beside me, who was attacked on Bute …

Talking with local business owner after press conference
Talking with local business owner after press conference

Twenty-five years ago I was bashed on this very spot by two off-duty bouncers because I was gay. The police told me I was lucky to live – that the only thing that saved my life was a good Samaritan that drove his car up onto the sidewalk to stop their attack.

This atmosphere of hatred and violence against gay people must stop.

Streetside CBC interview
Streetside CBC interview

Children are being taught to hate and grow up to become killers. And it’s got to stop! What can we do?

1) This attack confirms the necessity of the Social Justice 12 education curriculum to combat the violence and hatred children are learning elsewhere.

2) We need more Community policing in Davie Village, including increased foot and bike patrols.

3) This attack also reconfirms the need for designating Davie Village a unique cultural, historic and entertainment neighbourhood and a safe space for the GLBT community.

4) Most important of all, the community has to start standing up for itself, speak up, and report verbal and other assaults – like all cowards, attacks that go unchallenged will escalate.

5) Intervene by calling the police and letting the attackers know from a distance that the police are on the way. I believe the only reason I’m alive is because someone intervened by doing just that from their van. In many known cases where the victim lives, it was because a good Samaritan stopped and called the police.