Sunday, April 25, 2010

the equality myth

The victim of a vicious assault in south Edmonton says it was a hate crime and questions how police are investigating the attack.

"I would like [police] to find [the attackers], but in my personal opinion, I don't think that's really happening," Shannon Barry said in an exclusive interview with CBC News.

Barry, 31, is recovering in hospital after surgery to implant two plates in her face. She suffered a broken jaw, a crushed left eye socket and facial nerve damage when she was kicked in the face by a man who hurled sexual epithets at her before the attack.

Barry, who is a lesbian, was walking with five friends along 96th Street near 75th Avenue about 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Four men yelled at them from the other side of the street, calling them "dykes and faggots," said one of the women, Denise Gouchie.

The men crossed the street and closed in on the group of women.

"That's when we stopped and turned around," Gouchie said. "And I was just saying, 'OK, guys whoa. We're ladies. Everyone calm down,' and then I turned around, and Shannon was on the ground."

'It was just like someone drop-kicking a football.'—Denise Gouchie

Barry, who was drunk, had stumbled and fallen to one knee. When she did, one of the men kicked her in the face.

"It was just like someone drop-kicking a football," Gouchie said.

The force of the kick flipped Barry on her back and knocked her unconscious for almost five minutes, Gouchie said. The four attackers, who appeared to be between the ages of 16 and 20, quickly fled, she said.

The women called 911, and an ambulance arrived right away. However, it took 30 minutes for a police officer to arrive.

The women, who admit they were heavily intoxicated, told CBC the officer took their names but very little other information. They had to ask him for his business card, Gouchie said.

When Barry phoned police on Tuesday to ask about progress on her case, she learned there was no record of the incident, and the officer involved was off for four days.

As of Wednesday, no one from the Edmonton Police Service had contacted Barry or any of the other women, Gouchie said.
No police report was filed

CBC News has learned the investigating officer did not file a report. He also did not call in the dog team or Air 1, the police helicopter, in an attempt to track the four young men.

That is standard procedure for such a serious crime, according to one veteran of the Edmonton force, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He also said department policy requires officers to file reports on the same day, especially in a case involving a serious incident, such as an aggravated assault and potential hate crime.

With no report filed, police would have nothing to work with if someone called in an anonymous tip to Crimestoppers, the veteran officer said.

CBC News asked for interviews with Insp. Terry Rocchio, commander of the division responsible for the area where the attack occurred, and Edmonton police Chief Mike Boyd. Neither had responded Wednesday.

Barry blames the attack on a mistaken belief that hate against gay people is no longer an issue.

"I think in this day and age, we've become complacent and passive about educating the young to accept people's differences," she said, touching her swollen, bruised face.

"Everyone's under the assumption that we're past all that, but it's right here. It's happening to people that you know, that I know and love, all the time."

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now juxtapose this harsh reality with the inspirational words of lesbian slam-poet/performance artist Lenelle Moise

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