Slur drew YouTube poster to fracas

A racial slur piqued Chris Kemila’s interest enough that he went onto his balcony to investigate the fracas — eventually shooting video of three white men attacking a lone black man that’s been entered as key evidence in an assault case.

Kemila, 29, testified yesterday that he ignored about 30 seconds of yelling outside his Courtenay apartment before the word “nigger” caught his ear. He grabbed his camera and shot a 30-second video of the July 2009 fight that he uploaded to video-sharing website YouTube. It quickly caught worldwide attention.

The 29-year-old graphic artist testified in the Courtenay provincial court assault trial yesterday that he watched as Jay Phillips moved backwards and the three accused — Adam Huber, David White and Robert Rodgers — advanced.

Kemila said he heard the racial slur about half a dozen times during the fight.

Several women who intervened after Phillips fell to the ground and was pummeled also took the stand yesterday.

Gail Wong, a 60-year-old retiree, said she intervened because she was upset over the racial slurs.

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She said she regretted her own racial slur — calling Huber, White and Rodgers “white trash” during the assault — but she was “yelling in desperation to try to get them to stop.”

“Yellow belly chicken liver wasn’t working,” she added.

The defence has yet to state its case. During cross-examination, however, lawyers have argued that Phillips was at least a willing participant, if not the aggressor. Their arguments suggest the words hurled by the three men were not racially motivated, but designed to get Phillips angry, much as he had angered them by calling them various names, including “pussy.”

Today, the only witness to the start of the fight, other than the men directly involved, takes the stand. None of the accused is expected to testify.

Should they be found guilty and the Crown presses for a sentence under hate-crime legislation, the judge will make a ruling at sentencing.

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