GLENDALE, Ariz. — Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres is being criticized for wearing blackface while dressed as rapper Jay-Z at a Halloween party.
Fans and some media started criticizing Torres and his wife, Gianna, after teammate Paul Bissonnette posted a photo on Twitter of the couple both wearing blackface as they dressed up as Jay-Z and singer Beyonce Knowles at a team Halloween party Sunday night.
Torres wore a New York Yankees hat, black sunglasses and a white T-shirt as part of his costume, while his wife wore a sparkly dress with a “baby bump” underneath, a nod to Knowles’ revelation that she was pregnant at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.
The Coyotes issued a statement about the costume, denouncing the reaction or claims that Torres is racist.
“There was absolutely nothing racist about Raffi and his wife’s costumes. Raffi is a huge fan of Jay Z and his wife loves Beyonce. It was a Halloween party. The fact that this was reported is ridiculous. We will have no further comment,” the statement says.
Torres signed with Phoenix as a free agent in July after playing for five different teams over 10 seasons.
The son of a Mexican father and a Peruvian mother, Torres often was the victim of taunts during his junior career, which helped shape his hard-working, hard-hitting approach to hockey.
Bissonnette, an avid tweeter with nearly 160,000 followers, defended his teammate to fans who denounced Torres’ costume on Twitter.
“For someone to dress up as one of the most succesful couple’s of our generation on Halloween isn’t racism,” he wrote under his Twitter name, biznasty2point0. “You are wrong.”
POLICE URGE CHARGES
VANCOUVER — In what is called the largest crime spree in Vancouver history, police recommend that 60 people be charged with everything from assault to breaking and entering after the downtown Stanley Cup riot last June.
Police Chief Jim Chu said Monday a forensic video database was used to analyze characteristics of suspects. They asked the Crown to approve 163 charges against 60 people.
The June 15 riot put police under pressure to recommend charges quickly after thousands of people lit fires, burned cars and looted stores following the Vancouver Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“It became, by many measures, the largest crime spree in the history of B.C.,” Chu said at a news conference.
The recommendations have been forwarded to British Columbia prosecutors, who will determine if the charges go forward. Names of suspected rioters were not released.
Chu said officers needed the last four months to investigate.
“In the minds of many, today has been a long time coming and I share those frustrations,” Chu said. “I wish there could have been a quicker and simpler way to bring the rioters before the courts, and as tempting as it may have been to some to take those shortcuts, we still believe that we owed it to the victims of the riot and the residents of the community to take the time necessary to build the best cases possible.”
Chu outlined recommended charges against three men in their early 20s, including one who saw his picture from the riot posted on Facebook.
The chief said the Vancouver Island man contacted police to apologize for damaging a car and that after police interviewed him, they were initially prepared to recommend a charge of mischief.
But Chu said investigators then searched for the man’s description in the database of riot video they’d asked the public to download onto a police website. The computer returned numerous hits showing the suspect allegedly damaging six vehicles, including an unmarked police car.
In another case, Chu said a 21-year-old man’s fate was sealed by DNA collected at the scene. He said the same suspect was seen on video looting a store while masking his face with his shirt and punching a random victim in the back of the head, rendering him unconscious.
Chu said a third case involved a man whose newspaper photo showed him reaching into a broken store window. The man told officers he was just touching a dress on a mannequin, but never took it. The video, however, showed him running down the street with the stolen garment and tossing it onto a fire.
“This man is known to police and has a previous criminal history of trafficking drugs and crimes of violence,” Chu said. “The people who rampaged that night must be held accountable for their actions.”
An earlier report concluded police were overwhelmed by a massive and largely drunken crowd that streamed into the downtown core to watch the game on large TV screens.