Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let's Banish Violence From This Town

Early in the morning on Friday, October 3, on second avenue in downtown Prince Rupert a man was beaten within an inch of his life. Three local thugs beat him up so badly that he had to be flown down to Vancouver for reconstructive surgery. Every bone in his face was smashed and it's since been reconstructed with metal plates.

Because of a vicious act of thuggery a man has been permanently disfigured and his family's life has been disrupted forever. He and his wife have now left Prince Rupert for good. A senseless crime has been committed and the repercussions are felt for a lifetime.

It's nothing new for people to be beaten up in down-town Prince Rupert late at night, but that doesn't mean that it somehow should be tolerated. Ten years ago a fisherman was beaten to death by thugs here . No-one was killed this time. Instead a man was scarred and disfigured for life.

This is a wake-up call for Prince Rupert. We need to do something together as a community to heal this wound and to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. I am so appalled by this act of violence that I feel compelled to publicize and write about it.

In a couple of minutes three thugs have destroyed a good person and his family. Three thugs have raised the level of fear and stained the reputation of our good city. They've been arrested for "aggravated assault" and I hope they go to jail for a good long time. But it shouldn't end there.

An RCMP spokesperson has told me that they plan to meet with downtown stakeholders sometime in the near future to discuss solutions to this problem. I certainly hope that the RCMP follows through on this. And I hope that they don't just leave it to downtown merchants because I think that the entire community should be involved. Lives have been ruined and our communities reputation has been dragged through the mud by this senseless act.

Are we going to stand by while this kind of thuggery keeps happening or are we going to get together and do something to prevent it from happening again? We need to put our minds together and come up with a way of banishing violence from this town. We've got to unite on this or we risk our community's future.

Two suggestions I've heard from downtown stakeholders are: bringing back police foot patrols downtown after dark and putting up surveillance cameras on second avenue. Good suggestions, but this is only a part of it. Maybe our schools and colleges need to get involved in educating against violence. Maybe we, as a community, need to be a lot less tolerant of violence. Maybe we need to widen the focus from violence against women to violence against anyone, period.

Violence is not just a bad thing that people do to each other - it's a cancer that eats away at people's good-will and trust. It needs to be rooted out and banished once and for all.

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