A few hours ago I received a disturbing message from one of my friends in Vancouver. Just after 10:30pm at Majestic, a popular gay nightspot on Davie St., a man came in brandishing a hammer. He injured several unsuspecting staff members and patrons. As my friend said, “there was blood everywhere.” Luckily, my friend was out of harm’s way. As I told him, this was one instance I was glad he smoked: he was outside having a cig while this was going on. From online media reports, it sounds like everyone went to the hospital to get checked out, and most required stitches. They should all – physically at least – recover quite quickly.
When I first learned of this attack, I was sure it was going to be an instance of targeted gay bashing as Vancouver Pride wound down. Now that the police reports have been issued, however, it appears as if it is ‘simply’ another random act of violence. According to Vancouver Police, after the man ran out of Majestic, he continued his rampage, hitting two women on the head with the hammer on a patio. He was eventually subdued by the women’s male companion, who tackled him, sustaining some injuries in the process. Other passerby helped to hold the man while police cuffed him, and now it looks as though the assailant has suffered from mental illness for some time.
On the one hand, I am deeply relieved this violence was not directed specifically at Vancouver’s gay population. On the other, we have all been gripped by the grizzly Greyhound bus incident the past few days, and this is just one more bizarre act of random violence to reckon with.
Now I am worried about a different sort of bashing. It has come to light that the Greyhound attacker immigrated to Canada from China four years ago. Vancouver Police identifited this recent “hammer man” as “Middle Eastern” and I worry that the ignorant among us Canadians will use these incidents as fodder for their prejudiced views.
Let us remember, then, the random act of violence that a group of white Canadians in Owen Sound, Ontario recently committed against an innocent black man. What local police believe began as a case of mistaken identity escalated into a heinous, life-threatening beating that they are saying was likely fueled by racism.
“If I had a hammer, I’d hammer out a warning. I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.”