08 July 2009


Tue Jul 7, 7:18 PM

By Sunny Dhillon, The Canadian Press--

COURTENAY, B.C. - From the very moment Jay Phillips was born, his parents feared their biracial child's life in B.C. would be marked with epithets and slurs.

Now 38 years old and the recent victim of an assault police are investigating as a potential hate crime, Phillips is speaking out in hopes his own infant son's upbringing will be in a world far, far different from the one he's experienced.

RCMP in the Vancouver Island town of Courtenay, B.C., have arrested three men in the Friday night parking lot attack, video footage of which has since appeared on YouTube.

"There are elements or indicators that the offence was racially motivated," said Const. Tammy Douglas, adding the final determination on hate-crime charges won't be made until all the evidence has been gathered.

Douglas didn't know when that might be, since police are still hoping to speak to more witnesses as investigators try to further piece the altercation together.

Phillips, the son of a black father and white mother, was walking to the gym Friday when he says the assailants drove past him, shouting and hurling racial slurs.

"We're going to lynch you, get out of our white town," he alleges they said.

Phillips, not one to simply back down, cursed right back.

"They didn't like that so they came back, got out of the vehicle, surrounded me in a half-circle, took another step toward me, and the fight was on," he said.

The YouTube video shows the outnumbered Phillips more than holding his own, at one point knocking a man down to the ground. It isn't until Phillips loses his balance that the three men converge on him.

The trio can clearly be heard using racial epithets throughout the video.

Phillips, who later needed two stitches, said dealing with racism is nothing new for him. He's been subjected to strange looks, rude remarks and racial slurs since pre-school.

"I was four years old. I had a female teacher and she said, 'Quiet down you little nigger,"' he recalled.

"So I told my mom and she took care of it."

His mom, Kirsten Phillips, described the parking lot attack as particularly "horrifying."

"My son was on his way to the gym and it just can happen out of the blue, anywhere," she said.

Jay Phillips said it's important to bring the incident to light so that attacks that are alleged to be racially motivated can be stopped.

"We're not going to be bullied; we're not going anywhere," he said.

"I'm going to do everything I can to wake up this world ... I don't want anybody to have to walk down the street in fear."

Kirsten Phillips said she and her late husband had the same concerns about their son being subjected to racism that Jay now has for his nine-month-old boy.

RCMP have not released the names of the three arrested males, but said they are aged 19, 24, and 25.

Police, who say they're preparing assault charges against the trio, have not identified who shot the YouTube video.


  1. What a shame. I hate racism so bad. My cousin used to babysit a bi-racial boy. Thye called him a little (oreo) and I wasn't sure if that was appropriate. We are all humans, we should be judged for our actions not for the color of our skin or the way we dress.

  2. yes small towns in BC are known for this. :(

  3. Such a sad situation. I just read about this here in arguably the freest country on Earth today.

    Love you and thanks for posting this!

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