Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/7/2007 (3256 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Sagin Bali has no doubt at all about why he was randomly targeted last summer and brutally beaten as he waited for a bus on Main Street.The president of the Sudanese Association of Manitoba still bristles as he remembers hearing things like "black monkey" and "why don't you go back where you came from" as he tried to protect himself from a flurry of kicks and punches.Kingsley McDonald, an aboriginal man whose criminal record includes a manslaughter conviction, would be arrested and charged in the attack which left Bali with a badly shattered ankle and a broken spirit.The Crown tried to up the ante when it came to sentencing by proving McDonald's actions met the Criminal Code definition of a hate crime.It seemed like a no-brainer, especially after Bali got on the witness stand to testify about what he recalled.But after a day-long hearing, provincial court Judge Judith Elliott refused to find McDonald was motivated by hate - even though she found Bali to be a credible witness.Rage, yes. But not racism.Elliott's main reason? The fact McDonald, as a native man living in Manitoba, has apparently been subjected to plenty of racism himself.In a nutshell, the judge didn't believe a man who'd been on the receiving end of hurtful taunts and slurs could deliberately turn the tables on someone from another race.Doesn't this strike you as ridiculous?I mean, isn't that a bit like saying someone who was subjected to horrible physical/emotional/sexual abuse in their past isn't capable of carrying out similar acts against someone else?Yet we see those kinds of cases and hear those kinds of explanations every single day in courts. And judges routinely accept an offender's abusive background as a mitigating factor when dishing out sentences many believe to be lenient.So why couldn't a victim of racism become a racist?McDonald, for the record, claims he never attacked Bali because of the colour of his skin. He says he was "just having a bad day, a bad few months" and decided to take his anger out on someone for no reason. And that someone was Bali.It's interesting to note that a videotape of the attack shows McDonald paying no attention to several other potential victims - all of whom were either white or native - before he jumps Bali, the first black man to enter the picture.As I wrote in Friday's paper, McDonald was sentenced this week to 52 months in jail.He's already done 14, which was given the magical double-time credit of 28. That leaves him with another 24. He could be released in as little as eight months (one-third of the remaining sentence), but it's more likely he will do a full 16 months before getting statutory release.So, in reality, he will do as little as 22 months of real time. 30, max.The Crown was seeking a stiffer penalty, as they should have. McDonald is a very violent man who has been given ample chances to turn his life around. And he has failed.The system has also failed Bali, who told me recently he is likely going to leave Canada and return home because he is so disgusted with what's happened to him.There's another reason for Bali''s outrage.The videotape didn't just capture him being attacked. It also caught the complete apathy shown by at least eight witnesses who simply walked by without so much as lifting a finger to help him.Bali was eventually forced to peel himself off the pavement and limp down Main Street, bloodied and limping from his fractured ankle. Alone."I guess it's a pretty sad commentary," Crown attorney Liz Pats told court Thursday.Sadly, she's probably right. In more ways then one.(What do you think? Agree with the judge's finding that a victim of racism can't be racist? Got a thought on why nobody would stop to help Bali? Would you? Post it below)www.mikeoncrime.com