A group of five people yelled racial slurs at a Black man before he was stabbed multiple times in a Brandon, Man., skate park on Thursday, in what one police officer said was an "absolutely reprehensible" assault.
Two women now face several charges, including public incitement of hatred — the first time that charge has been laid in the southwestern Manitoba city, according to police.
"The racial part of it is horrible. It is absolutely horrible," Staff Sgt. Bill Brown, a spokesperson for the Brandon Police Service, said at a Friday afternoon news conference.
"And if that led to the incident, then it elevates [it], in my opinion as a policeman for 20-plus years. It is terrible."
Officers went to the Kristopher Campbell Memorial Skate Plaza at Ninth Street and Princess Avenue around 7:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, after a report about a group of five people assaulting the man.
I'm disgusted by it, as most people would be — all people, I would hope. - Brandon police Staff Sgt. Bill Brown
Kevin Taylor, 44, had tried to leave when the racial slurs began to avoid a confrontation, but the group blocked him and then attacked him, Brandon police Staff Sgt. Brian Partridge said earlier Friday.
The altercation ended with Taylor being stabbed five times.
He was taken to hospital by a witness before police arrived. He remains in hospital in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery, Partridge said Friday morning.
Brown called the incident "absolutely reprehensible" at the afternoon news conference.
"I'm disgusted by it, as most people would be — all people, I would hope — and also by the violence involved here, at 7:45 on a beautiful, fall evening, at a place where people take their children."
Video shows attack
In a news release earlier Friday, Brandon police said a video of the attack shows Taylor being punched and kicked. At one point, he tries to defend himself and holds one of the attackers down. A woman then pulls out the knife and stabs him repeatedly in the side of his abdomen, police said.
The altercation ends as Taylor walks away, bleeding from his wounds. The woman who stabbed him had slashed the tires of his vehicle before the stabbing, police said.
A patrol officer later found a woman, matching the description of one of the suspects, walking a couple of blocks away. She had blood on her clothing and a blood-stained knife in her pocket, police said.
That woman, a 23-year-old from Brandon, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, public incitement of hatred, mischief to property and failure to comply with a court order.
Another woman, a 20-year-old from Sioux Valley, was found nearby and also arrested. She was charged with assault, public incitement of hatred, public mischief and failure to comply with a court order.
Brandon police did not release the names of the accused on Friday.
The charge of public incitement of hatred was based on what officers learned at the scene, Brown said. He also said there were several witnesses to the attack, which is how officers obtained the video.
Police are still looking for three other people involved in the attack.
Brown said investigators believe they know who two of the three are, and police will likely issue arrest warrants later Friday afternoon.
"For something like this to happen so close to home with an attack on a Black person, especially somebody from my community, it's totally uncalled for," said Eleanor Elk, councillor at Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.
"I don't know what was going through the person's mind doing this to a Black person.… It's shocking."
Elk has experienced racism in her life but never imagined someone from her community would attack another person, let alone another person of colour.
She feels terrible for the victim but also for the parents of those who participated.
Victim at skate park with son
Taylor, a former mixed martial artist, is a father of four. He was at the skate park with his six-year-old son when the attack occurred, Beverly Bucknor, Taylor's mother, told CBC News.
Bucknor's "stomach was in knots," and her "thoughts were going crazy" when she first learned what had happened.
"I may lose my baby," she thought at the time.
Bucknor hasn't spoken to her son yet, but she's been kept up-to-date on his status and knows he's recovering, she said.
"That guy is tough. He's going to be OK," she said. "If he can get up and walk, after he got stabbed so many times, now you see what I'm talking about."
Bucknor has lived in Brandon for 17 years and said she has not experienced overt racism directed toward her. She never expected to hear that anyone from the southwestern Manitoba city would be charged with public incitement of hatred.
"When I heard it, I was in shock," she said.
Emelio Brown, president of Westman Jamaican Community Inc., has lived in Brandon for six years. He has faced milder forms of racism in the city, he said.
"You hear words, of course. You hear the resentment. You see it at how people look at you," Brown said. "However, I've never seen anything like this."
This was a case where someone acted on their feelings, he said.
"Obviously, everyone has a right to how they feel — whether it's right or not. But if you're going to act on these feelings and these racial viewpoints, that's definitely an issue."
The stabbing showed that racism is alive in Brandon, he said. But it's also concerning because it happened in a place — the community skate park — where Taylor is supposed to feel safe.
Brown pleaded for people to educate themselves and those around them about anti-Black racism in order to make strides toward change.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.