March against hate crimes and intolerance

Edmonton – A group of people marched down Edmonton streets Friday evening to show solidarity against hate crimes and intolerance.

The second annual “From Hate to Hope March” is the brain child of openly gay Edmontonian Chevi Rabbit who says he was terrorized and assaulted by three men in broad daylight just over a year ago allegedly because of his sexuality.

“I was just more embarrassed and really sad, so I retreated to Ponoka for a couple days until hopefully they found the people and recuperated,” explains Rabbit.

Rabbit’s life has changed since the alleged attack. He’s stepped forward to become an advocate for change.

“I came to the conclusion at my parents house that it was there problem not mine. It’s unfortunate that it happened so I thought I’ll do my part to educate the public that it’s wrong to attack people because they are different,” says Rabbitt.

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The spot where he was allegedly assaulted in the Garneau neighbourhood marked the beginning of the second annual march.

Rabbit asked participants to dress in one of three colours: purple, to represent the fight against homophobia; pink, for anti-bullying; red, in honour of past hate crime victims.

“It’s unofficial. When I did research on colours, there was nothing for hate crimes, so I googled red and it said courage, and I thought it takes a lot of courage to overcome adversity,” explains Rabbit.

Openly gay Edmontonian Yasir Akhtar dressed in a burka during the march which he says is a sign of oppression.

“As you can see it’s a see through burka. What i’m saying is you can tell us to hide, but we can’t hide anymore, even if we try to protect ourselves, you can still see us and we’re not going anywhere,” explains Akhtar.

Akhtar says he can relate to what Chevi Rabbit has gone through.

“I moved here from Montreal and I’d never experienced that in Montreal, but when I moved here, I hear name calling, bullying every single day.”

The message of the second annual “From Hate to Hope March,” it’s okay to be different.

“We should live in a city that’s more inclusive. Where everybody feels welcome,” says Rabbit.

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With files from Quinn Ohler

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