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This article was published 13/11/2014 (2374 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman has vowed to ensure an attack like the one that gravely injured Rinelle Harper never happens to anyone again.
Harper, 16, was severely beaten and tossed into the Assiniboine River Friday night. She managed to get out of the river, but was then attacked with a baseball bat and left for dead. She was found unconscious hours later and rushed to hospital, where she is expected to recover. Two suspects have been arrested.
Bowman said he had spoken to Rinelle’s parents, Julie and Ceasar, on Thursday and commended them for their strength and forgiveness in dealing with such an horrifying incident. At a press conference Thursday, Julie Harper said she forgave her daughter's attackers.
"As a parent, it’s difficult to imagine what they are going through," Bowman said during a hastily-called news conference outside his city hall office. "To see the strength they are showing is really something a lot of Winnipeggers can take their cue from.
"This was a brutal attack on a young girl and I want to express my thoughts and prayers on behalf of my wife, Tracy, and I and on behalf of all Winnipeggers to the family at this time."
The attack should prompt all Winnipeggers to come together to reach out to the Harper family, Bowman said.
"I’d encourage all Winnipeggers to do what you can to reach out to Rinelle and her family and friends… with words of strength and support.
"Let them know that what’s happened to this young girl should offend all Winnipeggers and it does."
'Looking at all options'
Bowman said he’s prepared to work with the Winnipeg police board to ensure a consideration of all measures that could be put into place to prevent another such attack.
"We’ll be looking at all avenues to do what we can to support building a stronger and safer community," Bowman said.
"I’m going to be looking at all options – anything that we can do to make Winnipeg safer is on the table for me…. I wouldn’t rule out (surveillance) cameras or anything else we can do to make Winnipeg safer."
Bowman said Winnipeg is no different than any other Canadian city when it comes to problems of racism and violence, but added he is encouraged by how the community has reached out to the family.
"The concern that all people are expressing for this young girl and her family gives us a sense of hope."