By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Winnipeg police confirm that the victim of a fatal stabbing was once at the centre of a high-profile case against the Ku Klux Klan, but investigators don’t believe his death was connected to his racist past.
James Edsel Tucker, 45, died in hospital after being found with stab wounds in an apartment early Thursday.
Const. Jason Michalyshen says Tucker had changed his name, and used to be William James Harcus.
Harcus and two others were tried in 1992 on charges of promoting hatred in connection with alleged activities on behalf of the Klan in Manitoba, but the charges were not proceeded with amid allegations of police misconduct.
A racist phone hotline that was connected with the case was also the subject of a Canadian human rights tribunal hearing later that year, which ended with the tribunal ordering the Klan to stop using the telephone to promote hatred.
Two suspects have been charged with second-degree murder in Tucker’s death. Police allege the death occurred after a deal to buy drugs.
“This incident has nothing to do with his past,” Michalyshen said Sunday, noting that homicide investigators did not believe Tucker had been active recently with the racist movement.
Police say two men showed up Thursday at a Winnipeg apartment when they encountered a 37-year-old resident. The men were armed, police say, and they assaulted the man before forcing him inside.
When the men encountered Tucker, police say there was a fight and he was stabbed.
In addition to the murder charges, the two suspects, Martin Archie Flett, 22, and Joshua Evans, 24, also face charges that include robbery with a firearm, kidnapping with a firearm, sexual assault and assault with a weapon.
Both Flett and Evans have been ordered held in custody pending a court appearance on the allegations.
Michalyshen did not know when Tucker changed his name from Harcus.
The complaints to the human rights tribunal in 1992 alleged the KKK hotline — which operated in Winnipeg between May 1991 and December 1991 until police brought criminal charges — delivered messages likely to arouse hatred against people based on their race, colour, national or ethnic origin and religion.
Some of the messages directly targeted members of the local anti-racist movement, the complainants alleged.
After the criminal case against the three KKK members fell apart, in 1992 a magistrate banned all three men from owning weapons, ammunition or explosives for five years.
Police had already seized weapons from two of the men, and the court heard one of the men had met with Harcus and undercover police officers in December 1991 and discussed how to obtain weapons illegally.
Chief Magistrate Don Dowbenko said he considered the ban necessary because he believed the men could pose a threat to the public, particularly members of minority groups.