Portuguese attack victim Rui Medeiros still can't believe witnesses won't tell the police who beat him up.

Mr. Medeiros had to have reconstructive surgery on his face after being pummelled by four men outside Docksider's bar on Front Street last Wednesday after the tense World Cup semi-final clash between Portugal and France.

The 31-year-old father of two, a Bermudian of Portuguese heritage, told us: "A lot of people saw what happened. There were a lot of people outside. I need some witnesses to come forward."

The attack outraged the community, especially the Portuguese, who were horrified by witnesses who heard the thugs, described as young, black Bermudians, shout anti-Portuguese slurs like "go back to where you came from. That's why us black people are suffering because of you lot." They also burnt the Portuguese flag.

Following our story on Friday, the Portuguese community has been urging people to post comments on our website. Dozens of people responded, Portuguese and Bermudian, all of whom were horrified by the attack.

One wrote: "I am completely disgusted with this criminal behaviour perpetrated by these 'animals' against a man who was doing absolutely nothing wrong. If there was ever a genuine hate crime this was it…"

Another reader, calling himself a black employed Bermudian, said he wanted to "apologise on behalf of myblack people for the racist act taken against Mr. Medeiros… Not all black people have a chip on their shoulders."

Mr. Medeiros himself says he has no hard feelings against black Bermudians. He recognizes the attack for what it was, a cowardly act by four "bad apples."

He said: "I was bought up in Bermuda. I went to school all my life here. I was probably the only white guy in my class and I've got a lot of black friends. I haven't got anything against anyone."

Nevertheless, what happened last week has stirred up a lot of feelings about black Bermudian/Portuguese relations.

Newspaper columnist Alvin Williams is a black Bermudian whose mother's second husband was Portuguese. She went on to have three children, two surviving, half black, half Portuguese. He sees the issue from both sides.

Last week's incident, he says was an aberration. "It had to do with the soccer thing and the display of Portuguese nationalism and in the background of that was the feeling among the young, black working class that they're being displaced."

Mr. Williams, who supports independence, said: "Bermudians do not have a sense of this country belonging to them and they feel insecure about it."

The Bermuda Sun understands part of the attack was caught by security cameras but police wouldn't give us any details. Spokesman Dwayne Caines said the police are not "giving away any specific investigation methods."

Mr. Madeiros, who has two daughters aged eight and 18 months, runs a construction business but will be out of action for at least of couple of weeks. He suffered serious damage to his right eye socket as well as a fractured nose.

Two women witnesses told us last week they were stunned that people appeared to be watching the fight without doing anything about it. Mr. Madeiros was stunned, too.

He said: "I'm very surprised people didn't break it up. If I'd have seen someone getting beat on like that I would have helped."

Manny Faria, the president of Tuff Dogs Sports Club, made up of mostly Portuguese players, was in Docksiders for the game. He said the bar was packed with all sorts of people having a good time.

However, he added: "Not many people in the bar knew what had happened outside. I was outside and caught the tail end of the fight and was quite disturbed. I just want to clarify one thing. Everyone asks why no one helped him. There were a few guys who tried to break up the fight. Many of the onlookers were young teens and women who seemed to be terrified. The crowd seemed afraid to get near the situation."

Rally on Friday

The attack is likely to become a key focus at an anti-racism rally due to take place on Friday from 12.30pm at City Hall. Confirmed speakers include Cultural Affairs Minister Dale Butler, Shadow Race Relations Minister Jahmal Simmons, the Bermuda Industrial Union's president, Chris Furbert and UBP?leader Wayne Furbert.

The rally is being organized by 27 year-old Bermudian Jonathan Starling. He told us: "I don't expect it will change anything. Some people feel like we're never going to get rid of racism, but that's no excuse for not trying."

Mr. Starling, who works at the Aquarium, said he wants the rally to explore all aspects of racism, not just black and white, but Bermudians' attitude to the new nationalities making Bermuda their home.

The Commission for Unity and Racial Equality (CURE) deplored the attack, too, yesterday saying there is no "rational answer as to why somebody would do this."

We sent the organization a list of questions relating specifically to Portuguese/black Bermudian relations. It made no reference to that specfic dynamic in its answers, grouping the issue under the category of "ethnicity."

It said: "CURE is aware of antagonism between the various groups in Bermuda, but this has generally been between blacks and whites. Ethnicity is layered on top of or amongst the race issue." It then went on to talk about race, its forums and personal responsibility.

It said: "People will have to start to look at how privilege plays itself out in Bermuda and how unequal access to privilege damages Bermuda's social fabric."

CURE said its sympathies and prayers go out to the Medeiros family.