Community rallies behind young Black victim of racist attack
GoFundMe has raised more than $25K
A racist attack on a Black junior high boy has seen community members turn out to raise awareness and support his family.
The Grade 8 student, who CBC News is identifying as Pazo, was attacked by a group of boys outside Rosslyn School on April 16. A video circulating online shows the teen beaten by several other boys, including one who puts him in a chokehold and slams him to the ground. Someone can be heard calling him the N-word.
Calls to action in response to the attack are being amplified by local community leaders and groups, including the Black-Owned Market Edmonton.
"We just want some accountability, we just want something to happen so that behaviours like this are not encouraged," said Ivan Touko, technology business officer for the organization which works to uplift and empower Black-owned business owners.
"We need people to actively work towards trying to support Pazo, his family, but also support what community feels like — because I don't think Pazo's ever going to feel safe again at that school ever."
The group has put email templates on social media addressed to school officials and police demanding consequences for the boys involved.
It has also created a form to send messages of support to Pazo and his family.
"Just to show the support and to show that he's not alone in this and that the community supports him," Touko said.
Listen to more community reaction to the racist schoolyard attack here:
A GoFundMe has brought in more than $25,000 to help cover expenses, including legal and long-term psychological needs.
Accountability needed, mayor says
The attack shows more work needs to be done to combat racism, Mayor Don Iveson said Monday.
Iveson said he met with the family on Sunday alongside Trisha Estabrooks, chair of the Edmonton Public School Board, and superintendent Darrel Robertson.
Systemic racism and racist behaviour "is unfortunately still part of our community and we still have a tremendous amount of work to do to call it out," he said. "There needs to be accountability for instances of violence like this."
In a statement Sunday, Robertson said the public board had recommended students involved be expelled. It followed a statement a day earlier that any potential related consequences were bound by privacy legislation.
The Edmonton Catholic School Division said two of its students were involved. A statement from the Catholic division said their names had been provided to the Edmonton Police Service for their investigation.
The family has called for the students to face criminal charges.
Tiera Williams, founder of the anti-racism group A Fight For Equity, one of the main organizers of this summer's massive protest against systemic racism, said the school was slow to act and that charges should be laid.
"It seems to have taken outrage from the community and a lot of pressure applied onto them before they even did anything," she said.
Williams said while the response from Black, African and Caribbean community groups has been amazing, she has seen comments downplaying the incident with a "boys being boys" mentality.
"It sounds like they're trying to justify it as not what it is, which is a hate crime."
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
With files from Thandiwe Konguavi