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Calgary anti-racism activist beaten, blames neo-Nazis for 'targeted' attack Add to ...

A married father of four who has become the face of Calgary's anti-racism movement was attacked inside his home early Monday morning, the fifth and most violent incident where the man has been targeted.

Five masked men broke into the duplex belonging to Jason Devine, 30, and his wife Bonnie, 32, around 1 a.m. Mr. Devine and another man were viciously beaten with a bat and a hammer, among other weapons, police say. His guest suffered a broken arm, while Mr. Devine suffered a series of welts and bruises.

Ms. Devine and the couple's four boys, ages five through 12, weren't harmed. The invaders fled.

Police say the Devines were "100 per cent targeted." The couple, who are both white, are the only members of Anti-Racist Action Calgary - a grassroots group that identifies Calgary's neo-Nazis on a blog - to use their actual names. Various online white supremacist forums identify and condemn Mr. Devine.

His attackers were dressed in black military gear. Mr. Devine said he could see, through the eyeholes of their masks, that they were Caucasian. They destroyed Ms. Devine's laptop, but left her purse and other valuables.

"I think that this attack was done in retaliation for our continued activism," said Mr. Devine, a well-spoken, self-described "radical" who is a former Communist Party of Canada candidate. "This is clearly a designed attack on us. Nothing was stolen."

Investigators suspect that's true, but cautioned they weren't jumping to conclusions. By taking a public stand like the Devines, "you might open yourself up to some retribution. Does it make it right? Absolutely not," said Calgary Police Service Acting Staff Sergeant Brad Moore, who is leading the investigation. He appealed for witnesses to come forward.

The other attacks on Mr. Devine and his home include a Molotov cocktail that was thrown at his house, missing a window and exploding outside. Police made an arrest in that case, which ended in an acquittal.

In others that didn't lead to arrests, he had objects tossed through his windows and swastikas painted on his door.

"I'm very cautious. I'll be even more cautious now. But there just comes a point in time where you have to make a decision - do you fold up and walk away, or do you keep going with it?" Mr. Devine said, adding he won't be shying from the limelight despite the risk his family faces. "I think racism is one thing no one can tolerate - no rational person anyway."

Calgary has struggled to ward off its neo-Nazi movement, which flourished amid the economic boom. Two years ago, an anti-racism march organized by Mr. Devine clashed with white supremacists who showed up. A similar march this year was more tame. A white supremacist was arrested last year after a makeshift bomb was found outside another city home.

There are a handful of key local supremacy groups. One called the Aryan Guard once offered to subsidize supporters who moved to Calgary. Its founders are among the people police want to question in Mr. Devine's attack.

That group claims to have disbanded, although Mr. Devine said it was simply rolled into Blood and Honour, a militaristic group with a website pledging its dedication to the "preservation of European cultural identity" and ties to other prominent white power organizations.

A University of Calgary graduate student, Mr. Devine expects to be off school recovering from his injuries for up to three weeks. His wife is the sole breadwinner. The couple plans to appeal to supporters for donations to help reinforce the front door of their duplex.

The couple have tried to explain the five attacks to their sons, whose knowledge of the white supremacy movement, Mr. Devine said, stems only from the evil Nazis in Indiana Jones movies.

"We explained to them - there are people that are ignorant, there are people who are mean, who hate," he said. "But we told them there's a time when you have to stand up for what you believe in."

 

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