Two Men Charged in Brutal Vancouver Gay Bashing
With help from the public and security footage, Vancouver police zeroed in on and apprehended two brothers suspected of having carried out a savage anti-gay beating that left two men with concussions outside their own home on June 12.
But the story is not yet over: suspects Parminder "Peter" Bassi, 30, and his 27-year-old brother Ravinder "Robbie" Bassi failed to appear as scheduled in court on July 5.
Peter Regier and his male partner David Holtzman were assaulted at around 11:00 p.m. on June 12 by a pair of men who uttered anti-gay slurs before launching their assault against the men. The attack was apparently triggered by Holtzman asking the men not to urinate in public.
"David objected and said, ’Do you really need to pee there? I live here, this is my building,’" Regier told the press. That was when the verbal abuse began, with the men--who were drinking--hurling invective such as "fucking faggots" and "cocksuckers" at the couple. Then the two men physically assaulted Regier and Holtzman.
"I want to make this clear; this was not a fight," Regier told Canadian GLBT site Xtra! in a June 14 article. "This was on our doorstep. We were attacked and savagely beaten." According to Regier, "One attacked me first. The other went for David."
Holtzman said that during the assault he was "huddled up in a fetal position," adding that his assailant "hit me in the back of the head at least 50 times."
The assailants broke off the attack and left when onlookers approached, the article said. The men were treated for their injuries at a hospital, where Regier needed to have a scalp laceration stapled shut. Holtzman was bitten in the attack; he also needed a CT scan. Both men suffered concussions. "We thought he has a brain injury, and there’s still something a bit wrong with his vision, so we’re monitoring that," Regier told the press with regard to Holtzman.
Police and city officials took the crime seriously. "Vancouver is a wonderfully diverse city and there is zero tolerance for any action or behavior that discriminates or harms people for their beliefs, ethnicity or sexuality. It is completely unacceptable," the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, stated on June 14, reported CTV News that same day. Added the mayor, "There is zero tolerance for any action or behavior that discriminates or harms people for their beliefs, ethnicity or sexuality."
Using a security camera image of the brothers running up a street in the neighborhood where the attack took place, and relying on information gleaned from the public, investigators closed in on the suspects, who were apprehended at their home on June 30, reported Canadian newspaper The Province on July 5. The brothers face assault charges.
The Province noted that prior to the attack, a violent sports event, Ultimate Fighting Championship, took place in the neighborhood, but it was not known whether the suspects had gone to see it.
"We want justice," Holtzman, who continues to suffer symptoms related to the head trauma he sustained, told the press after the suspects’ courtroom no-show. "But we really want the final outcome to be safe and healthy neighborhoods. I think for certain kinds of events at certain times, we need an obvious police presence on street corners and neighborhoods, and we know the city and police are taking this seriously."
The attorney asked for, and received, a second court date of Aug. 9.
Canada has been hit by a spate of anti-gay violence in recent years.
On July 1, another attack took place in Vancouver, when a 21-year-old man reportedly hurled insults at a gay man who was walking with friends. The shouted abuse was followed by a physical attack, as the assailant punched the victim, knocking him down, and then continued to hit him. A second 21-year-old, who was with the attacker’s group, then reportedly joined in on the assault. Anti-gay abuse was reportedly shouted as the assault continued. The two attackers were subsequently arrested and charged with assault.
In Windsor, two episodes of gay bashing took place within two weeks last month. In mid-May, Chris Rabideau was set upon by two men who beat and robbed him; the men shouted anti-gay epithets during the attack. On May 31, two men were assaulted by an individual who, together with two others, hurled anti-gay abuse at them in a pizza restaurant. Though only one of the abusers physically attacked the men, he left one victim with facial injuries severe enough to require reconstructive surgery, reported Xtra! on May 31.
Last October, 27-year-old Christopher Skinner, an openly gay man, was beaten by a number of men who emerged from a black SUV. While Skinner lay on the ground, the men got back into the vehicle and deliberately drive over him. Skinner died later in the hospital. It was only hours later that Skinner’s fiancée, Ryan Cook, learned of Skinner’s murder.
Last September, a gay Ontario man who met a prospective model was given a ride in the man’s truck. The driver suddenly launched into an assault on the passenger, striking him repeatedly and saying, "Because you’re gay you need to be punished, I’m going to fucking kill you, and you’re a faggot." The victim leapt from the vehicle and was taken to the hospital with lacerations, bruises, and a dislocated shoulder.
Four days later, another Ontario man was attacked, this time by a mob of young men who was viciously beaten with a brick and suffered multiple facial contusions and fractures.
The trend has shown up in a recent study of violent crime rates in the nation. Hate crimes spiked by 35% in a one-year period, leaping up in number from 2007 to 2008, reported the Canadian Press on June 14. A little more than half of those crimes targeted victims because of their race; a quarter were motivated by the victim’s religion; and around a sixth were driven by anti-gay animus.
But the number of anti-gay hate crimes shot up 100% between 2007 and 2008, the article said, and of anti-gay hate crimes, three-quarters involved violence rather than vandalism or other forms of criminal activity; in contrast, only 38% of the hate crimes motivated by race were violent in nature, and only a quarter of hate crimes targeting religious minorities involved violence.