Fundraisers have taken place in Halifax and Ottawa for alleged beating victim Pattrick Blackburn, but at least two money-raising efforts for him in this province have been discontinued.
Thirty-year-old Blackburn of St. John’s took to social media early last week to tell his story of having been beaten and left for dead under a bush at Rawlins Cross.
He was walking home during the wee hours on a Friday morning when he heard a group of men shout a homophobic slur at him, he said. He said he heard footsteps, and the next thing he knew, he was waking up in a hospital bed.
A friend is said to have found Blackburn by the side of the road at Rawlins Cross and put him in his car, where he has said he took photos of Blackburn covered in blood before driving downtown to find a police officer. Police have confirmed they responded to the Mile One area, and called an ambulance to take Blackburn to hospital.
Blackburn said in an emotional YouTube video he was told he had undergone a blood transfusion and received 18 stitches in his forehead, and a nurse had told him he had been in danger of “bleeding out” and dying, had he arrived 10 minutes later. In the video, Blackburn was wearing a number of Band-Aids on his face, as well as a black eyepatch over his right eye, which he said was so damaged he was unable to see clearly from it.
Blackburn posted the photos said to have been taken by his friend in the back of the car, as well as a photo of his injuries, on his Facebook account. His YouTube video, and at least one other, allegedly posted the same night, have since been removed.
In the past week, members of the public have pointed out what they deem to be inconsistencies in Blackburn’s story and have accused him of faking the attack. Blackburn told The Telegram he was scared to leave his house on account of harassment, and said his email account and computer had been hacked. He declined an interview, and told The Telegram never to contact him again.
The RNC has said officers have contacted Blackburn numerous times in an effort to have him make a statement so they can investigate the incident, but he has refused. He posted on Facebook last week, “I have spoken to the police and there will be a statement an a on going (sic) investigation. The ball will be rolled. I owe it to you guys, myself and humanity itself. But I’m in no mental capacity right now to do so.”
Local resident George Newman said he and his wife were shocked upon seeing Blackburn’s video shared on Facebook, and immediately took steps to help him. Newman has been involved in fundraisers for friends before, most recently musician Gene Browne, who lost his Paradise home to fire last year.
Newman contacted his musician friends with the hopes of compiling a digital album to release online, with all money raised going to Blackburn.
“To be clear, I have never met Pattrick. Ever. I trusted that what he had posted was true and he was a victim. I contacted him through Facebook to see if there was a PayPal email I could use to direct funds from the (album) I had compiled on his behalf,” Newman explained.
Newman said Blackburn directed him to a friend, who had already made a donation website in his aid. The website, which gave directions to donors to email funds directly to Blackburn’s email address with the security password in a second email, has since been removed. A request for comment from the friend was not returned as of press time. However, she did post a comment with the link to the fundraising website on a story about Blackburn that appeared on the Halifax Chronicle-Herald website last week, saying, “The support has been stupendous.”
After Newman received word from the friend that she was removing the donation website, he decided to shut down the album as well. At the time he pulled the project, it had collected $55, which had gone straight into a PayPal account the friend had set up for Blackburn.
“I saw a video of a man, whom I had never met, who allegedly was a victim of a hateful act of violence, and reacted with a kind gesture and a trusted, helping hand. That gesture has placed me under unwanted scrutiny,” Newman said.
He has since donated the album to St. John’s Pride Inc., to raise awareness and help members of the community in immediate need.
“This organization will provide the trust and transparency to accept our gift from the St. John's music community and allocate the revenue appropriately,” he said.
A fundraising event was held for Blackburn by Queer Ottawa last Friday. A Telegram editor emailed the organization Friday morning to ask if the event would be going ahead, given the controversy and lack of police report, and received a reply from Queer Ottawa executive director Elliott Youden confirming that it would go ahead as planned.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on an ongoing police investigation,” Youden said.
When the editor referred him to an RNC statement issued that morning, saying police had yet to receive a formal complaint about the incident, Youden protested.
“The police have an interview with Pattrick scheduled. They have received numerous accounts and sources of information. Perhaps they have nowhere to go because they don’t care,” Youden said.
“I have nothing more to say to you. Please refrain from contacting me,” he added at the end of his email.
An email to Youden Tuesday evening, asking how much money was raised for Blackburn at the fundraiser, went unanswered.
On Wednesday, an RNC spokeswoman confirmed police have still not received an official complaint from Blackburn, and have not received statements from anyone else in relation to the incident.
In Halifax, a non-profit organization called the Imperial Sovereign Court of Atlantic Nova Society Inc. (ISCANS) — which is dedicated to helping people in need as well as charities — held a “Legends of the Silver Screen” event at a local nightclub in aid of Blackburn, a makeup artist and fitness instructor who once lived in Halifax. The event raised $353.05, which organizers said “will go to help Pattrick to recover from his injuries and help keep things OK until he can get back to work.”
Anyone with information on the alleged incident at Rawlins Cross in the early morning hours of Aug. 16 is asked to contact the RNC at
729-8000, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.