Editor’s note and trigger warning: The following letter contains discussion of a violent attack.
On behalf of the Dalhousie Gazette staff, we write the following words with heavy hearts:
In the early hours of Sept. 18, Stephen Wentzell, a 23-year-old University of King’s College student, was horrifically attacked by his neighbour. Wentzell says he had called the police on Aug. 31 to report his neighbour in an alleged incident of domestic abuse. In retaliation, Wentzell’s neighbour brutally assaulted him.
On his Twitter page, Wentzell described how his neighbour repeatedly kicked him in the face while yelling homophobic slurs and included a graphic audio recording of the attack.
Wentzell is a talented journalist and has written several stories for the Gazette. What happened to him should never happen to anyone. Although the police are not investigating the incident as a hate crime, we cannot ignore the violent, homophobic language Wentzell’s attacker used during the assault.
We do not know the details of the alleged domestic abuse incident Wentzell reported, but our thoughts are also with that person, and all people, who are victims of domestic violence.
Wentzell’s horrifying experience is part of a larger story. Violence and hate are a pandemic. Hundreds of hate crimes are reported in Canada every year. The Black Lives Matter movement has shone a light again on police brutality and racial violence. Recent reports have shown domestic abuse has risen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues are not all the same, but they all involve violence related to hate and inequality.
It’s not enough to simply say these words, but we want to state this: We vehemently condemn violence, abuse and acts of hate.
If you have the means to support Wentzell as he recovers from his attack, please visit his GoFundMe page (gofundme.com/f/cwucd-recovery-from-hate-crime). We can all take steps to educate ourselves further on the discriminatory violence that exists in our society.