Transgender rapper, allegedly beaten in a Toronto park, says attackers threatened to kill him
Saye Skye suffered a bloody nose and broken phone in confrontation
A quiet afternoon stroll in a west-end park earlier this month turned violent for a Toronto rapper, who says he was attacked by two men and a woman for being transgender.
Saye Skye was playing with his cat in the park on July 16 when he asked a group drinking near Bloor Street and Ossington Avenue to stop littering.
"They started swearing at me and calling me names, threatening me that they would kill me," he told CBC Toronto.
Skye is a Persian musician and spoken word artist who gained popularity in parts of the Middle East. He fled to Canada from Iran for fear he could be targeted for his sexual orientation and advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community.
Skye often tackles subjects of discrimination and homophobia in his music, and says he thinks those were the driving forces behind the alleged attack against him.
Toronto police have launched an investigation into the alleged incident. They are treating it as an assault, noting they don't have enough evidence to indicate it was a hate-motivated crime.
The following account of the alleged attack is based on Skye's retelling of what occurred that day.
'I'll f--king kill you'
He said the assault started when he confronted a man — who was sitting on a bench in the park with another man and a woman — after he saw him throw a beer bottle onto the ground.
Skye says he came out of the altercation with a bloody nose and a broken phone.
Skye said he asked the man to use a nearby garbage bin instead, recalling how his cat got one of its feet stuck in an empty beer can in the park only days earlier.
"It escalated in a second and one of them punched me in the face. He started saying, 'You know who you're f--king talking to, f--king tranny?'" he told CBC Toronto.
Skye said he managed to pull out his phone and started to record the attack but he was knocked to the ground. The woman hit him in the back of his head with her purse.
At that point, he started screaming for help, but even though there was a group of people next door having a rooftop party, and several others on the streets nearby, no one came to his assistance.
"I can scream loud, I'm a musician, I know how to use my vocal cords," Skye explained. But he said his screams seemed to have infuriated his attackers.
"You're a little bitch. F--king pussy. You scream like a f--king pussy," was their response, Skye said.
"And he was saying that, 'I'll f--king kill you."'
The attackers took away his phone, smashed it and threw it in a nearby ditch, Skye said.
The rapper said he has filed a report with the police who told him that a detective has been assigned to the case.
"This is an active investigation and at this time we cannot confirm the motive," Toronto police said in a statement to CBC Toronto.
'Everyone stood there and watched'
Skye said the attack was senseless and he's at a loss about the entire incident.
"I live my queer life very visibly and I try to be proud of myself, and as hard as it is with all the stares and everything, I try to live a true life and maybe that's an obvious thing for people to notice that I'm queer," he said.
He is also calling out the people who "just watched at the corners of the intersection" and failed to assist him, even though it was clear to everyone that he was in danger.
"Everyone stood there and watched," he said.
How can you see somebody in that situation and laugh?- Saye Skye
"There were so many people. I went to people begging for help, I was bleeding. You could tell that I was in danger," he said.
"How can you see somebody in that situation and laugh when I go to them and ask them, 'Please call the cops; can somebody call the cops?"'
With files from Natalie Nanowski