Vehicle parade in Mission draws strong support for transgender student attacked and beaten by peers

·2 min read

Hundreds of vehicles festooned with pink balloons, rainbow signs and anti-bullying messages drove slowly through a riverfront area of Mission B.C. on Sunday to offer support to a teen who was beaten by two other students at their school on Monday.

AJ Gopinath, one of the organizers of the rally, said when details of the violence emerged, he knew he had to do something in response.

"For us, just standing by and watching someone get assaulted in a manner that is not accepted by the community and, as a person, I couldn't step back and allow it to happen," he said from the rally on Sunday while wearing a pink T-shirt with the message, 'Say no to bullying' on it.

On Monday a video was posted on social media that showed the victim, who rally organizers describe as a non-binary transgender teen, being punched and kicked by two girls on school grounds of École Heritage Park Middle School.

The two attackers were arrested and police are recommending charges against them including assault and uttering threats.

The video and its aftermath have received strong reaction from residents in Mission and around the province.

The Mission School District said the two girls who attacked their peer will face discipline from the school as will some bystanders who watched the attack.

B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside has also commented on the attack saying she has asked her ministry to provide support to the school district and that students deserve to be safe at school.

On Sunday at the rally to support the victim, participants cheered, honked and waved signs that said bullying was not acceptable in the community.

"We wanted to show them that they have the love and support of everybody and all of Mission," said Gopinath about people who are bullied.

Shane MacKichan
Shane MacKichan
Shane MacKichan
Shane MacKichan

Brad Vis, the MP for the area said he was overwhelmed by the positive response from everyone who attended the rally.

"I'm just so proud of my community today and I'm just so proud of the victim and all the encouragement [they're] getting," he said.

Mission Acting Mayor Jag Gill said the rally would help the community overcome the tragedy.