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Vol. 74/No. 18      May 10, 2010

Rightists target interracial
couple in Nova Scotia
MONTREAL—Michelle Lyon and Shayne Howe, an interracial couple in Polar Grove, Nova Scotia, found their car in flames at 2:00 a.m. April 17. The torching left their car a charred shell.

This is the second attack on the couple in the last two months. In February a cross, with a noose hanging from it, was burned on their lawn. Howe, the only Black in Poplar Grove, and Lyon, who is white, woke up that February morning to shouts of “Die, nigger, die,” they told the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Police have charged Justin Rehberg, 19, and Nathan Rehberg, 20, with public incitement of hatred, criminal harassment, uttering threats, and mischief for the cross-burning. On April 19, Justin Rehberg pleaded not guilty; his trial is set for October 18.

The settlement of Blacks in Nova Scotia began in 1783. Some U.S. Blacks took up arms with the British during the war for U.S. independence because of a British promise of emancipation. After its defeat the British army brought 3,000 of these Blacks to Nova Scotia.

There is a long history of racist treatment of Blacks in Nova Scotia. In February the mayor of Halifax apologized for the destruction in the 1960s of Africville, a Black community on the city’s north end, in the name of “urban renewal.” As Mayor Peter Kelly promised $3 million to build a replica church, some Blacks in the crowd yelled “Give it back,” “Compensation!” and “You forgot the people!”

On April 15, the province issued a rare free pardon to Viola Desmond, who was arrested in 1946 for sitting in the “whites only” section of a New Glasgow movie theater. Desmond was convicted of defrauding the province of the extra penny it cost to sit in the “whites-only” section and spent 12 hours in jail. She died 45 years ago.
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