Shayne Howe doesn’t know who is responsible. He doesn’t know the thought process behind it, either.
But the 31-year-old from Newport, Hants Co., said when the people responsible for the lighting of a two-metre burning cross on his family’s front lawn get caught, they deserve to have the justice system come down hard on them — very hard.
“I think they should get the maximum punishment,” Howe, a black man, told Metro in no uncertain terms yesterday. “No slap on the wrist. They deserve hard time.”
While a few days have passed since Howe and his family looked outside their window after midnight Sunday to find a burning cross with a noose on it staring back at them, the impact of this disturbing incident still very much affects them.
Besides the cross, Howe said a group of males outside also shouted racial slurs at him when he went to investigate.
Presently, Howe is keeping his kids out of school because, “I just feel safer right now to have them next to me.” He also is growing more suspicious this was in fact a hate crime, something police are looking into the possibility of.
Howe said if it was a bad joke, he’d expect those responsible to have come forward by now and apologize. That hasn’t happened.
But others are coming forward — both in and outside of his community — to offer words and actions of support to Howe and his fiancée, Michelle Lyon, who is white, and their five children. Howe has two other children from a previous relationship.
“We have a lot of support from a lot of people,” he said.
That includes calls from local politicians, including Scott Brison, the MP for Kings-Hants, who called Monday from Washington, D.C., where he was meeting U.S. government officials.
A Facebook page titled Support for Shayne Howe and Michelle Lyon of Hants County, NS has also been started. By 9 p.m. last night, more than 3,100 people had joined the group.
“It’s almost like I’m a celebrity,” Howe said. “It’s not a good feeling though — not for the reason I’m on camera.”
RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Brigdit Leger said yesterday they are receiving assistance from the public and are following up on several leads in this case, but there have been no arrests. She said they believe at least two individuals were involved, and a vehicle was used to get to and from the home.