Skip to main content

An Edmonton actor says he wants to "thank" a man who was filmed making racial epithets toward him for opening up a conversation about racism. Jesse Lipscombe says he was disappointed but not surprised by the incident.The Canadian Press

An actor and former high-jump champion who confronted someone yelling racial slurs — all of which was caught on video — says he would like to thank the man.

"What he did has given me and my city and the country an opportunity to talk about something that needs to be talked about," said Jesse Lipscombe, 36, in an interview Thursday.

"He helped lift up the rug for those who thought there weren't any critters under it and helped clean house."

Lipscombe, who is black, was shooting a public service announcement in Edmonton's downtown about how great the city is.

In a video posted on Lipscombe's Facebook page Wednesday, he is seen approaching a grey, four-door sedan after a man is heard yelling racial epithets at him.

To watch the video click here.

Lipscombe opens the car door, leans in and asks the passenger —a balding, middle-aged white male — if he has anything to say. The man denies he has said anything, struggles to close the door and, as the vehicle speeds off, yells another slur.

"I walk over to the car and open the door and try and ask him to say it again to my 6'3, 260 lb face, they try to slam the door on me. We keep rolling as they speed away still shouting the same thing. Edmonton is better than these fools!," Lipscombe said on his Facebook post.

He said he doesn't regret confronting the individual.

"It's a thing with me when people make somebody feel uncomfortable, I like to do the same in return," Lipscombe said in an interview Thursday.

"I'm not a violent man by any means and ... words go a long way, so I thought I'd go over there and have a discussion with him about his decision to say what he said."

Lipscombe said the man's actions serve as a reminder that no matter how terrific people think things are in Canada, there are still problems when it comes to acceptance.

"It wasn't shocking. It's a thing that happens to people of colour, to women, to Muslims on a daily basis," he said.

"Every once in a while you're reminded of how much work there's still left to do."

Lipscombe, who is an actor and personal trainer, was ranked sixth in the world in high jump before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. But a mini-stroke ended his track career.

He's also the grandson of Rollie Miles, a former Edmonton Eskimos running back who was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame.

Lipscombe is hopeful the posting of the video will make his taunter think twice next time.

"Thanks for your ignorance, and hopefully when you watch yourself with your two minutes of fame, you can see what you look like in the actual light as opposed to what you think you are when you probably hang out with your friends."

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson issued a statement condemning the use of racist language by the car's occupants.

"No one in our city should ever be exposed to hateful comments like this," he said.

Iveson said he contacted Lipscombe to offer his support.

In early August, another man said he was subjected to a racial slur while riding his bicycle in the city's downtown. Bashir Mohamed said he accepted an apology from the driver and police decided not to charge the man with a hate crime.

Police chief Rod Knecht said he doesn't believe Edmonton is racist.

"I would say quite to the contrary, this is not a racist city at all," said Knecht, who added he has worked in 16 different communities in his career.

"Every city has that element, and that's in flux all the time. We have people who move into the city. We have people who move out of the city."