After a disturbing video showing a racist incident in Edmonton’s downtown went viral this week, the city’s mayor, Don Iveson, is calling for more awareness and action on the issue of racism.
Edmonton actor and producer, Jesse Lipscombe, posted the video to his Facebook page on Wednesday evening. In the video, Lipscombe can be seen walking in downtown Edmonton filming a PSA when a car with four men pulls up ahead of him and one of them yells a racial slur at him. The camera keeps rolling as Lipscombe proceeds to open the door of the car and confront the man about his remark. After the men exchanged words, the car sped off and one of the men yelled the same racial slur at Lipscombe again.
Iveson told CTV News Channel from Edmonton on Friday that he was appalled to see Lipscombe’s video. The mayor knows Lipscombe personally and said he thinks it’s great that he captured the video and is using it to bring attention to the topic of racism in the city.
“He (Lipscombe) has very calmly and admirably taken the video and taken this opportunity to raise awareness of that (racism) and call for people to be better,” Iveson said.
The mayor said he met with Lipscombe and his wife Julia Friday morning to talk about how they can work together to continue the conversation and make social change. Iveson said Julia came up with the idea to start a new online campaign aimed at addressing racism using the hashtag #makeitawkward.
“It’s time to start calling that behaviour out,” he said. “It’s time to make it awkward and talk about this and make a difference.”
Lipscombe told CTV Edmonton that he posted the video of his experience to publicly shame the offenders and to bring attention to this kind of behaviour.
“Let’s not be quiet about it,” he said. “Let’s actually put fuel in it so that people are aware and sensitive to the fact that life is different when you have a different hue of skin.”
Lipscombe’s Facebook post has generated widespread condemnation of the man in the vehicle. It has garnered more than 250,000 views and has been shared more than 2,000 times. Iveson said police services are in possession of the video but he hopes someone on social media who recognizes the men in the car will see the video and come forward to identify them.
“Someone is going to know that that’s their uncle, or dad or grandfather,” he said. “It’s time for someone to make it awkward in that family and say, ‘You know what? You can’t say that kind of thing.’”
Iveson stressed that incidents like this aren’t exclusive to his city and that every community has to deal with individuals who have those outmoded views.
“If this starts a national conversation about how Canadians know and expect to be better than this and are disappointed to see that there are still people who behave this way, that’s a good thing,” Iverson said.
With files from CTV Edmonton
New campaign with the Mayor. #makeitawkwardPosted by Jesse Lipscombe on Friday, September 2, 2016