Friends pack Halifax bar in support of Raymond Taavel
The friends of a popular gay rights activist who was killed in Halifax last week are keeping his memory alive.
The friends of 49-year-old Raymond Taavel hosted a fundraiser in the city Sunday night. The funds will help Taavel's family to cope with the loss.
"We're here to fundraise for Raymond's family, for his final expenses and whatever costs occur, so they're not financially burdened with that," said friend Kari Mia Way, who performed at the benefit.
More than 30 performers volunteered to entertain supporters with a variety show and a silent auction was also held at Menz Bar on Gottingen Street, where Taavel was a regular patron.
He was leaving the bar early Tuesday when he tried to break up a fight and was subsequently beaten to death.
Police responded to the assault call around 2:39 a.m. on April 17.
People packed inside the bar Sunday night and Taavel's friends say they are thrilled with the outpouring of support.
"He was always there, he was one of the warmest people I'd ever met," said performer Devastation, a friend of Taavel's. "He always had a big hug for you and we're tenacious about remembering that."
Andre Noel Denny of Membertou, N.S. has been charged with second-degree murder in Taavel's death.
The 32-year-old left the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth the night of April 16 on a one-hour pass, but he failed to return to the facility an hour later.
Denny was reported missing at 8:47 p.m. and officers were dispatched to look for him around 9 p.m., but they were unable to locate him.
He was arrested in a nearby alley a short time after Taavel was found bleeding outside of Menz Bar early Tuesday morning.
Doctors have described Denny as a schizophrenic and "grossly psychotic."
The Nova Scotia government announced last week it will be conducting a joint review with health authorities over the release of Denny from the psychiatric facility.
The deputy ministers of health and justice will lead the review alongside the CEO of the Capital District Health Authority.
"The review will determine whether all relevant policies and procedures were followed and whether they were adequate," said a news release from the Nova Scotia government.