"Unbelievable" turnout for Port Colborne Rally Against Racism
The atmosphere was positive and supportive this afternoon in downtown Port Colborne.
Roughly 200 friends, family members and strangers gathered to let the Benner Hannigan family know that they are not alone following an act of racism.
On February 15th the Benner family home was broken into and a racial slur spray painted in the daughter, Ruby Benner's bedroom.
Ruby and her boyfriend Jayden are Grade 10 students at Lakeshore Catholic High School in Port Colborne.
Ruby is white and Jayden is black.
Multiple speakers shared words of support as well as their own stories about prejudice and racism in the community.
Shannon Hannigan, Jayden's mother, is no stranger to racism.
"I've dealt with it forever. When he was 2 I had someone ask me where I adopted him from. We crossed the border because he loves Cedar Point, and the border officials pulled me over and said 'Where are his adoption papers? We will put you in jail if you do not give us his adoption papers.'"
Shannon was shocked by today's turnout - she was only expecting about 90 people, all family and friends.
Port Colborne City Councillor Angie Demarais was there and said the events of February 15th left her "positively disgusted", but that's not how she felt today.
"Seeing the turnout that we had tells me we can overcome. It's a matter of standing together and again, speaking out loud and proud. And our justice system backing us up. If these people are caught, being tried with anything less than a hate crime is absolutely... Just absolutely unacceptable."
The rally was put on with the support of the Niagara Anti Racism Coalition and Guild Hall.