To the editor,
I have just finished reading "Where the sidewalk ends" and find myself angry and frustrated all over again. In August of last year, I spent an early morning pacing my apartment, worried about my husband who had spent that evening at a bachelor party pub crawl. Even though I was eight months pregnant and highly emotional, I knew that my gut feeling that something was wrong was more than hormones. Just as I was about to head out to comb the city for him, he walked in the door bruised and bloodied. His small group of friends had been assaulted by a large group of teens. The incident took place on the corner of Prince and Barrington Streets at around 2am, as the bachelor party was heading home for the evening. The gang attempted to verbally provoke the bachelor party into a fight. When efforts to ignore this gang resulted in being stalked, one of my husband's friends approached the group and played cool, telling them that their night had ended and they weren't looking for any trouble. A few of the gang agreed and shook hands. But the gang continued to follow them. Another peace attempt was made to no avail. My husband was attacked from behind and rendered unconscious. My husband's friends ran back to assist him. One of his friends spotted a Parking Enforcement car located up the street facing the direction of the fight. The young man ran up to the car and begged for help. The officers refused to get out of the car. After the gang ran off and the ambulance arrived to carry my husband off to the hospital, these officers got out of their car and apologized for not acting sooner. They stated that they were afraid to get involved.
When I read the story of Mr. Oland and Ms. MacPhee, my blood boiled. I couldn't believe that the police involved in this incident not only refused to intervene, but didn't assist the couple by either watching for them to make safe passage past the assailants or by giving them a drive a few blocks ahead, thereby removing them from the dangerous situation. What were they thinking?
And while I don't have many answers to this problem, I do know this: Calling this Halifax's dirty little secret is a misnomer. Incidents such as this are not bottom shelf, brown bag, behind closed-door secrets. Go to any party or group gathering and I assure you, most people in the room have a similar story that happened to them or to someone they know. This issue is no secret. The reality is in the subtext—HRM has been named the most violent city in Canada.
While I agree with Dawn Sloane's argument that as a community we need to get more proactive, that only works if you have a police force that is willing to fulfill their mandate to serve and protect. It won't matter how many phone calls are received from concerned persons or how many more police you are permitted to hire if the officers on duty are too scared or too careless to get out of their cruisers.
By C. Kingston