After a terrifying incident on January 6, 2022, which prompted Kingston Police to seek public assistance to identify a vehicle and driver accused of dangerous driving, two victims of an alleged racially-motivated attack are sharing their story.
Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, the two Queen’s University Ph.D. candidates have asked to remain anonymous, but hope that sharing the details of the incident will aid police with their investigation, and empower other victims of similar incidents to report them.
At around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, the two women, who self-identified as racialized people, were crossing at the intersection of Van Order Drive and Norman Rogers Drive when a Caucasian man deliberately sped up his sedan instead of stopping, as he was supposed to do, the women explained.
The “old man in a sedan car… suddenly drove at us and did not stop at all until my friend yelled loudly at him, when the car was almost on our knees, right in the middle of the road,” said one of the women, “I can still recall the roaring sound of the car and the screech of the tires… at the last second.”
“And the driver, when I looked into his eyes, he stared back at me,” she recalled, “There was no sorry nor guilt in his face. All I could see was hate and anger… He was very sober. Maybe the exact word should be ‘indifferent.’”
Her friend added, the driver had to have seen their uncovered faces, “The light of the car was completely on our faces. I saw the car was waiting at the stop sign but suddenly started speeding up when we were in the middle of the street. So, he clearly saw us . . . I am a brown-skinned woman and it was clearly visible that [my friend] was Chinese. When the car stopped it was so close to my leg that I almost felt the car. I clearly saw his face and I was screaming about what he was doing.”
“It was very intense and my friend reacted quickly to it, she tried to confront or reason with the driver,” the first woman continued, noting that, in her state of shock she feared for her friend. “I dragged her two steps back, as I was very afraid the driver would be provoked to press even harder on the gas when we were still standing in front of the car. That fear was so real. I did not regret my move, but it did give the driver a chance to flee the scene. He did not say a thing, and just drove by.”
In that split second before she was pulled away, the victim who yelled at him said, “He said nothing and just stared back at us. He did not even ask whether we were ok. At this point, wasn’t such a question supposed to be the first reaction one should have had? Every other witness asked that first. The man had no expression of fear or guilt or concern on his face. Rather, he had a face of winning the game in finding us scared. Then he drove away. Moreover, we were in the middle of the street. If he wanted, he could have easily passed by the side of the road without approaching us. The road was not narrow.”
The traumatic experience came out of nowhere, recollected her friend. “We were just walking on the sidewalk, right in front of a stop sign, next to a school in our neighbourhood. I would never have expected death would be so close to me with such malice from a stranger when I was just a few steps away from my home here.”
The women wanted to share the incident because they thought it was important for people to know that “words can be healing and might even save lives.”
One of the victims expressed frustration that something so dangerous could have been perpetrated by another human being.
“Many friends kindly suggest counselling. I have enough things to worry about in daily life: my academic work, my teaching, the anxiety over COVID that’s happening in the world right now. It is a world precarious enough for everyone already,” she communicated. “And now I have to add one more thing to my counsellor’s attention, that my dark hair and physical features could have cost me my life? This is insane. And the craziest thing is that such things keep happening in today’s world.”
She compares the COVID virus to racism and hate, “I wore a mask that day, actually, almost all the time when I am out these days, to protect myself from the virus, but now I do not feel safe anymore wearing my mask… There is fear of the physical virus, but now I am more concerned about the metaphysical one. I think the latter is even more deadly, to some extent. I may know what measures to take to protect myself from COVID (wearing my mask, keeping my distance, cleaning my hands, etc.), but I could never know when and how to prevent myself from being harmed simply because of my physical look. In this case, no place will be a safe place for me, for people like me, the marginalized community… to people as vulnerable as I am.”
The woman pointed to the basic rights that anyone the world over, let alone here in Canada, should be afforded.
“We do not get to choose what skin colour we were born into, but everyone has the right to feel safe when walking on the street,” she asserted, saying, “It broke my heart to hear from a black mother saying that such things happen to them all the time. This is not right; it is just so wrong, and we should put it right. If sharing my story has helped spread the word in any possible way, my experience is worth it.”
Despite everything, she said, “I have faith in humanities as a student of humanities. I am grateful for those at the scene who saw what just happened and reached out to us, offering their support and kindness. They are white, local people. People are nice simply because they are, regardless of race, gender, etc. I am also grateful that my friend was by my side being vigilant, and yelled out at that moment which saved both of our lives. I believe God is with me. He sends angels around so that I am free from harm, so are you.”
In a written statement, Dr. Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Professor of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University relayed, “The University was deeply troubled to learn of this incident that occurred near the University and we are relieved the students involved are safe. We have offered support to the two students. The University opposes racism in all its forms. We commend the students for reporting the incident to the Kingston Police Service so it can be investigated.”
He also pointed out, “The University offers a wide array of support services on campus that are available to any student who may feel impacted by this incident and in need of support. Additional resources include our Faith and Spiritual Life staff or Empower Me, which provides 24/7 from countries around the world, Good2Talk, a 24/7 support line for post-secondary students, or Student Wellness Services.”
Anyone with information regarding to the January 6 incident is asked to notify Detective Sergeant Carla Stacey at 613-549-4660 ext. 6242, or via email at [email protected].