Vancouver talk radio host Justin Morissette was on his way to a first date in Vancouver’s west end Saturday night when he encountered a group of evangelical anti-LGBTQ demonstrators preaching homophobic and racist messages.
Morissette detailed the experience from his perspective through a series of tweets Saturday night.
On Twitter, Morissette said he’s not gay, but lives in the area and “cares about his neighbours.”
“[The demonstrators] were broadcasting their religious hatred into a microphone over a loud speaker for all to hear, disrupting an otherwise lovely August evening,” he wrote. “I am not gay, I just care about my neighbors.”
According to Vancouver Police, the group was “preaching about religion and anti-gay chants.”
“A short time after the preaching started, one individual approached the group and asked them to stop the anti-gay chants and to stop speaking into the microphone. A disturbance ensued and the individual is suspected to have been thrown to the ground, where they unfortunately broke their leg,” Sgt. Aaron Boed said in an emailed statement to HuffPost Canada.
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According to Vancouver Police, two men were arrested and transported to jail, with charges of aggravated assault and mischief are being forwarded to Crown counsel for consideration. The case is also being reviewed as a potential hate crime.
The two men were released on the condition they have no interaction with each other or Morissette. They also are not allowed to return to the area. Both are expected to appear in court at a later date.
“VPD will not tolerate any type of hate crimes and will investigate all reports of hate crimes or suspected hate crimes that happen in the City of Vancouver. Public safety will always remain a priority for the VPD and we want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in their communities and neighbourhoods they visit,” Roed said.
The group has been seen in the city’s west end before.
The same group was ousted from the area back in June for similar homophobic preaching.
On Monday, Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart commended Morissette’s bravery
“Hate has no place in our city,” he told reporters during an event with B.C. health minister Adrian Dix.
Stewart called the homophobic and racist preaching “absolutely despicable.”
A crowd-funding campaign has been launched to support Morisette in his recovery with any medical or legal bills. In a message posted to the page, Morisette’s brother Kevin Morisette wrote that the assault didn’t need to happen.
“2020 has brought with it the call to action for civilians to stand up and fight against intolerance and bigotry. Justin did exactly this by confronting this group of religious extremist who believed they had a right to spew hate speech,” he wrote.
“It will be some time before rehab is completed and he is able to return to work. He badly needs the help of his family and friends to manage this tragic turn of events.”
As of Monday afternoon, the campaign has raised over $20,000 of its $25,000 goal.
Police are encouraging any other witnesses from Saturday’s altercation to come forward.