3 April 2010

Update on the Hants County Cross Burning

We had earlier linked to news of a cross burning in Hants County, Nova Scotia. The victims, Shayne Howe, Michelle Lyon, and their five children, are a mixed race family whose home was attacked in February. Howe, who is black, had discovered a two-metre cross burning on his front lawn and heard men shouting racial epithets including “die nigger die”. A noose was discovered dangling from the cross, which was constructed with such premeditation that it was designed to hook onto the family’s well crock.

The perpetrators were arrested and taken into custody within days. They turned out to be brothers Nathan Neil Rehberg, 20, and Justin Chad Rehberg, 19, who are second cousins of Michelle Lyon.

After the Rehgerg's first court appearance, lyon posted this to a Facebook support group for the couple:

i am writing this to let everyone no how court was for me today, DISTURBING, i had to hear how my cousins PLOTTED and made this cross, and how they got it here. there plans were very detailed and well thot out over weeks. there mother and stepfather knew all about this planned attack, and didn't do much to stop it. (obviously cuz it happend) i was sickened to hear that the "N" word is freequently used by the two of them , and that they had a wooden stick they made they called their "N" beater. as to my knowlege they have both confessed to the attack. they both were denied bail for "now" until they can find someone to place assurity on them. they are now held till monday for court in windsor. shayne and i shed many tears in that court room today hearing the charges and whole story, shayne actually had to leave the courtroom at one point, because the details botherd him so much.

The brothers were subsequently released on $5000 bail to the custody of their grandparents and ordered to stay away from the Lyon-Howe family. They have been charged with criminal harassment, public incitement of hatred, mischief and uttering threats. Community response to the attack was immediate, with residents offering support and organizing an anti-racist Love Walk in the small community that was attended by 250 people.

Whether or not the brothers will own up to the viciousness of their actions, its impact on the victims, the black community in Nova Scotia and race relations in the province remains yet to be seen. The Rehbergs’ lawyer was quick to dismiss the hate crime charges as “overblown”, and friends and supporters of the brothers have gone online with some rather revolting rationalizing:

It must be said that there is no evidence supporting the accusations that were used to displace blame for the attack onto the victim himself. By all accounts, Michelle Lyon did not personally know the Rehberg brothers, and it goes without saying that anyone who can justify subjecting the couple’s mixed race children to racist terror and violence doesn’t give a shit about their safety or well-being.

The brothers are scheduled to enter pleas on April 19. Let’s hope they accept responsibility for their crimes and allow the victimized family at least a small measure of peace and justice.


Anonymous said...

Why do you hide the names of the idiots that defend this crap?

nos200 said...

Some of the individuals are minors or are suspected of being minors.