A Vancouver man is speaking out after an alleged assault by anti-gay demonstrators over the weekend left him with serious injuries.
Sportscaster Justin Morissette says he was tackled and thrown to the ground and his leg was badly broken following a confrontation in the city’s West End.
He said he was coming home from work on Saturday and heard an “incredibly loud loudspeaker,” so loud that he initially couldn’t make out what they were saying.
“I had a girl coming over and I did not want that to be the soundtrack of our date so I decided to, at the very least, go tell them to turn that down,” Morissette said.
“Then when I heard what was being said, I took it a step further and told them to pack their things and leave because you’re not welcome in this neighbourhood.”
Morissette said he asked them to turn the volume down on their loudspeaker. When they refused, he tried to lower the volume himself and someone pushed him away.
Morissette then took the microphone from the person speaking.
That’s when, he said, someone jumped on him to get the microphone back. After he shrugged off that attack, another man tried to put him in a grappling hold.
“If this was a fight, he decided to cheat to win,” Morissette said.
“He put his right leg behind my left leg and then with me still locked in a Full Nelson, wrenched my body against his leg until my leg snapped. He broke my leg on purpose and threw me to the ground and took his microphone back.”
Police arrested two men from the protest group and are recommending charges of aggravated assault and mischief.
The Vancouver Police Department’s hate crime unit is also investigating.
A man claiming to be a member of the group took to social media Monday to say he was arrested by Vancouver police for “preaching the gospel.”
The man, who identified himself as Dorre Love, says he, in fact, was the victim of assault and wants Morissette to be charged.
Videos posted to social media show what appears to be the same group preaching at English Bay earlier in the day. Vancouver police were on scene, keeping the peace between the group and angry beach-goers.
When Morissette shared his story on Twitter, he drew responses from people who said the preachers had become a regular and aggressive nuisance in the area.
Vancouver-Burrard MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert says it appears the group has violated noise bylaws and laws around hate speech, and he has written to Vancouver’s police chief to ask when police will take action.
“When you spread hate and you target lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people in the West End, or no matter what community, people won’t stand for it,” he said.
“And it boiled over this weekend. It never should have come to this.”
— With files from Simon Little and Aaron McArthur