Francis Pitia is a refugee from Sudan, fleeing the civil war before peace was established there. He spent time in a refugee camp in Uganda.He came to Kitchener, Ontario.Last week, he was swarmed by bunch of white young men, and beaten to the ground. What makes this appalling is that Pitia is disabled since childhood, having one leg non-functional because of polio. He has to use a crutch to walk. Those who beat him took the crutch from him and beat him with it.He had to get stitches to his cut lip, his ribs hurt and his eyes were still blood shot. I can't for the life of me see how someone would someone beat a disabled person to the ground. Either they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or they were emboldened by mob mentality, or something else that I can't comprehend. Here is coverage from the CBC, and the Globe and Mail.The real coverage was by the local newspaper, The Record. I am copying the two article in their entirity under fair use rules, because of the seriousness of the matter.
Disabled refugee beaten with own crutch near parkWaterloo man charged after group screams slurs and swarms victimBRIAN WHITWHAM KITCHENER (Jul 18, 2006) A refugee from Sudan remained in pain and confusion yesterday after a weekend attack near Victoria Park in which he was beaten with his own crutch.All that Francis Pitia knows is that a large group of men screamed racial slurs before attacking him on David Street on Saturday night.They knocked him to the pavement with a barrage of punches and kicks, and he believes he lost consciousness.Pitia, 33, whose right leg has been paralyzed since childhood from polio, does remember having a crutch ripped from him during the attack.He said one man used it as a club on his chest and stomach and then took the crutch.Pitia put his face in his hands and wept yesterday as he struggled to make sense of the beating."No one in my own country came to fight me like that," said Pitia, who came here from a refugee camp in Kenya about three years ago. "I'm disabled. Why would they fight me?"Police charged a 22-year-old Waterloo man yesterday with robbery, assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.His name was not released yesterday but police spokesperson Olaf Heinzel said the man will appear in court today. Police expect more people will be arrested as a result of the beating, Heinzel said.Pitia's right eyeball was bloodshot yesterday. His bottom lip had been stitched up.Most of the swelling in his face had subsided but he said his head was still aching. He winced with every movement because of the bruising on his chest and rib cage."Right now I'm in pain," he said, shaking his head. "Somebody beats you for no reason and you feel angry."Pitia was walking with his friend Daniel Tolit along David Street shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday.They were heading toward Joseph Street when they saw a group of about 10 men, most of whom were white and appeared to be in their 20s, coming over a hill on the edge of Victoria Park.They were screaming slurs at the two men and a third Sudanese man who was walking in the same area.Tolit said the group, claiming to be from Germany, were yelling that they didn't want black people in their country."When they saw us, we didn't even talk to them," Tolit said. "No one said a word."He said the group first swarmed the unidentified Sudanese man who was walking alone. He broke free and that's when the men moved in on Tolit and Pitia.Tolit said he fought off his first two attackers but they regrouped and came back with five. He then sprinted to the bus terminal on Charles Street and spoke to security officers.Before leaving David Street, he saw Pitia on the ground with the assailants all around him.Tolit said he was terrified."When I talked to security, I didn't know if Francis was alive or dead," he said. "I said, 'I just need help to call the police.' "Pitia said he was too confused to be scared. He said he did his best to defend himself but there wasn't much he could do."They came to beat me. They knocked me down . . . The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital."Tolit said the attackers were gone when he returned to David Street. A good Samaritan who tried to stop the attack also ended up being beaten.This man and the Sudanese victim who had been alone were gone before police arrived, Heinzel said. The police would like to speak with both men, he said.Pitia was treated and released from Grand River Hospital on Sunday. He said he's lucky his injuries aren't more serious.He broke down when he thought about the beating but said he refuses to be afraid of walking around downtown."If I got scared about that, I will get scared of everyone," he said."It's not all people. It was just that group."Tolit said he can't help feeling a bit frightened. The attack wasn't provoked and who can say it won't happen again, he said."I'm really worried. Because I feel like, anytime, I can be attacked."Anyone with information is asked to call the police at 519-653-7700, ext. 4434, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
And another article from July 22.
Living one step at a timeOne week after attackers clubbed Francis Pitia with his own crutch, the Sudanese refugee is refusing to let fear get the best of himBRIAN WHITWHAM KITCHENER (Jul 22, 2006) Francis Pitia has battled poverty, fled a civil war and huddled in a tent to avoid Somalian thieves -- all with the use of one leg.But until last Saturday, the Sudanese refugee had never been swarmed and beaten with his own crutch by a group of men screaming racial slurs at him.He was walking on David Street, near Joseph Street, when a group of white men came out of Victoria Park to attack him around 10:50 p.m.Pitia, 33, lost the movement in his right leg to polio as a child. He couldn't do much to defend himself and he was beaten unconscious.Another Sudanese man was also beaten, along with a Good Samaritan who tried to stop the assault. Police have charged a Waterloo man in the attack and the investigation is continuing.Pitia spent this week healing at home. His phone has been ringing off the hook with friends, people from his Mennonite church and callers he doesn't even know wishing him well.He said he appreciates the support but doesn't know what to tell people about the attack. Pitia said he refuses to let it scare him or affect his outlook."Why would I be afraid to walk outside?" he asked yesterday with a smile. "The people here love me so much."This is just something that happened to me."That seems to be Pitia's approach to everything. Since he left Sudan as a teenager, he has battled all kinds of adversity, always fending for himself."It's what I do," he said with a shrug. "It's part of life."Pitia was raised by his grandparents, Benjamin and Mareta, in a district in southern Sudan, about 20 kilometres from the Ugandan border. His parents were killed in a car accident when he was a baby and he was their only child.Civil war broke out in Sudan in the 1980s and by 1987, the fighting reached Pitia's neighbourhood.He said he was outside when he heard gunfire one morning and saw masses of people heading south.He said he dropped everything and followed. He never saw his grandparents again.With a wooden stick he used as a crutch, Pitia hopped for 20 kilometres as the sounds of war faded behind him."It took me a whole day because I just walked," he said. "I'd walk, sit down and walk again."He eventually crossed the border and reached a refugee camp in northeast Uganda. He stayed for more than three years under a plastic sheet that had been provided as a tent.He survived largely on corn, beans, and handouts he received for helping the fishing crews at a nearby river.He enjoyed playing soccer with other boys his age in his spare time but conditions in the camp were dire.Eventually, a family friend, who had also fled Sudan, offered to help him get out of the camp.Pitia said the friend took him to people in Uganda's capital city who gave him a room. At 16 or 17 years old, he was dropped in Kampala with 10,000 Ugandan shillings -- a few dollars Canadian -- to find a new life.He started selling candy off a table downtown. He soon moved on to soaps, shampoo, toothbrushes and other cosmetic products.For a few years, life was safe and relatively comfortable. But at 21 years old, Pitia got tired taking help from the people he was boarding with."I look at my life like nobody is beside me," he said. "Really, I do things for myself."He was also realizing that he didn't want to spend his life selling soap on the street.He said his operation was getting by but without an education, his options were limited. He wanted to find schooling, learn to write and become a better businessman.Once again, he picked up and left, this time for Nairobi. But Pitia didn't find work and he said police officers in Nairobi were not fond of Sudanese refugees.He headed north on his stick. Pitia had no choice but to return to corn and beans in another refugee camp, this time in northeast Kenya. He said the conditions there were worse than the camp in Uganda.Besides the meagre food supply and scorching heat of the desert, the remote camp often had thieves sneaking in from nearby Somalia.They would wait for police to finish a cursory patrol at night before attacking.Pitia said it was up to the Sudanese in the camp to care for themselves. They took shifts on lookout and would scream once they saw robbers moving in.Pitia said he often heard gunfire and watched refugees flood past his makeshift tent at night but there was nothing he could do."I just stayed in my tent," he said. "Where am I going to go . . . (I thought) if they come in and kill me, then that's it."That's how Pitia lived for about four years until the night raids subsided around 1999.He learned to make shoes at a community centre near the camp and he sold them to buy meat.He was then in the right place at the right time when United Nations workers moved the Sudanese refugees out of that area of Kenya in 2002. Pitia said they were scattered to countries around the world.The next thing he knew, he was getting off a plane in Winnipeg in early 2003 as a government-sponsored refugee.It was late winter and everything was covered in snow. Pitia had never seen snow but he thought the land looked curiously similar to the desert he had just left.He settled in Kitchener, where he is now living on a disability pension and attending the St. Louis Adult Learning Centre on Young Street. He hopes to find work once his language and writing skills are up to speed.For now, he's happily involved with his church and as many sports as he can fit in. Pitia said he loves table tennis, pool and soccer.ROOKIE OF THE YEARHe also recently got into sledge hockey -- a wheelchair version of the game -- with the K-W Sidewinders.Pitia has a plaque for being the team's most recent rookie of the year."I love the team," he said. "They're strong guys. They want to train me to be a goalie."It's clear the award hasn't gone to Pitia's head. Like everything else, he takes it in stride.
Appalling, shocking, disgusting ... yet in our own back yard ...