The first one is about racist skins killing a Jewish man early Sunday morning, at almost the same time, two others danced and sang with me at the Legends of Ska concert. Also, some facts about the real Toronto and real skinheads.
Early Sunday morning, two shaven-headed youths — one of whom was reported to be carrying a long knife — entered a pizzeria in North York (the north-central part of Toronto, home to a large Jewish community) and start harassing the proprietors and customers. Outside the pizzeria, a yarmulke-wearing man named David Rosenzweig was helping his son, whose car had broken down. As the youths left the pizzeria, they fatally stabbed Rosenzweig in the back. Rosenzweig was the father of six children, and he would’ve been celebrating his 49th birthday later that day.
Toronto’s chief of police, Julian Fantino, said that “[Rosenzweig] just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, an innocent victim.”
Yes, he was an innocent victim, but in my opinion, he wasn’t at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was answering his son’s call for help; he was being a good Dad. In my books, that puts him as being at the right place at the right time.
It’s his murderers who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Trash collection may have resumed in the city, but there are still two pieces of human trash that need to be collected — and soon. My condolences go out to Mr. Rosenzweig’s friends and family.
- CBC: Toronto Jew murdered by skinheads
- CityTV: Victim of Hate
- Globe and Mail: Toronto police investigate possible hate crime
- Ha’aretz: Toronto police: murder of Jewish man was ‘hate crime’
- Toronto Star: Fatal stabbing may be hate crime, police say
Only an hour earlier at the other end of town, there were a number of shaven-headed youths among the crowd at the Palais Royale. Legends of Ska, a concert featuring some of the Jamaican Ska greats of the 60’s, was taking place there. I met two skinheads during the intermission; we shook hands after being introduced and then they sang along, laughed and clapped while I played A Message To You Rudy (a song made famous by The Specials) on the accordion. These skinheads were cut from a different cloth entirely, dancing to the syncopated rhythms of the Skatalites with all kinds of people: Jamaican dudes in leather hats and funky dreads, whey-faced well-scrubbed Beat boys and girls wearing Vespa and Lambretta scooter t-shirts, Asian kids wearing Fred Perry golf shirts, older gentlemen looking snappy in either dashikis or suits and porkpie hats, black girls in Kinte cloth summer dresses, white rastas, punkers with mohawks, all ranging in age from teenagers to folks in their seventies. The climax of the evening was when the night’s featured artists all came on stage to do a rousing version of the ska classic Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think) and everyone danced.
This coming together of all kinds of people is what Toronto’s about, and the two guys I’d met are what true skinheads are all about.
For your information:
The original or “traditional” skinhead movement is actually abaout racial harmony, not hatred. The look was later co-opted by Neo-Nazis in the seventies. Here are some pages with quick summaries:
- First, lets’s get the facts straight. A history of the skinhead culture.
- A writeup on SHARP: SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice.
Some quick facts about Toronto and diversity( courtesy of the City of Toronto’s Key Facts):
- Toronto is heralded as one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
- Toronto ranked as the safest large metropolitan area in North America by Places Rated Almanac (We still have a way to go, though — Joey)
- Toronto received 80,000 immigrants in 1997 from 169 countries.
- Over 100 languages are spoken in Toronto, and one third of Toronto residents speak at home a language other than English.
- 48 per cent of Toronto’s population are immigrants.
- Foreign-born residents comprise more than 50 per cent of population (including me — Joey).
Utne Reader gave Toronto a special mention in its list of America’s 10 most enlightened cities. Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, (the New York Times review is here) moved here after writing that book.