Edmonton attacks provoked by race: victims

The people targeted in assaults in February by four men alleged to be white supremacists say the attacks were provoked by race.
This man, who CBC has agreed not to identify, was assaulted on Whyte Avenue last month. (CBC)

The people targeted in assaults in February by four men alleged to be white supremacists say the attacks were provoked by race.

"I couldn't believe something like this could happen," one of the victims, who was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Canada, said Wednesday. "I was upset and angry."

The young man, who CBC has agreed not to name, was having a cigarette on the sidewalk outside a Whyte Avenue bar early on Feb. 13 when a friend was bumped by one of a group of men.

"My friend looked back and he was like 'Hey, excuse me,' and the guy just ran towards him ... I put out my hand so I would just stop them and he just punched me," he said.

"All three of them just took me down to the ground and attacked me... after my friends pulled them off me, they ran off and threw these pamphlets of propaganda and they just started yelling 'white power' and then walked down Whyte Ave."

The man suffered bruises on his arm and bumps on his head.  His friend, who the CBC has also agreed not to name, said the men directed a racial slur at them.

"These guys were filled with hatred, so much hatred, and you could see it in their eyes," the second man said. "They were just very, very hateful ... just because I had a different skin colour, you have that much hate for me. There is no explanation.

"We were standing there minding our own business, we're out to have a good time, and these guys are out on a mission to find people like us."

On Tuesday, Edmonton Police announced they charged four men, ranging in age from 18 to 32 years in age, in the attacks. Police allege the accused are associated with a white supremacist group called Blood and Honour.

'We don't like your kind', woman told

The men are also charged in another attack on Feb. 13 that injured a woman, 20, and a man, 23. Police said the injuries were not life threatening.

A woman told CBC News a group of men seemed to come out of nowhere when she was standing alone on the street near Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail.

"We don't like your kind," she said they told her. She said she then ran inside a nearby bar for safety.

"I'm by myself. These guys are gesturing to slit my throat and I just didn't feel safe."

The woman then walked another block to meet her friends at a bar located at Calgary Trail and Whyte Avenue. They were standing outside when the group of men walked by again.

She told the bouncer not to let the group in. When he told them to move on, they shoved her.

"They called us [racial epithet] and spat on us," she said. "Then that's when they assaulted my friend."

The friend — a 20-year-old white woman — pushed back in self-defense and was punched twice in the face. When the bouncer tried to intervene, the men assaulted him too, the woman said. 

"How am I going to defend myself in this situation?" she said. "How am I going to keep myself safe, how am I going to keep my friends safe.. how is this not going to escalate? You don't know if people have guns, if they have knives."

The woman said her friend is fine now, but the attack has had a lasting effect.

"I'm always going to have that sense of looking over my shoulder and I'll always have anxiety when I see someone with a shaved head."

The four men are scheduled to appear in court on March 17.