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Vancouver MLA asks why anti-gay preachers weren't stopped before attack

Last Updated Aug 24, 2020 at 8:00 pm PST

Summary

MLA Chandra-Herbert questions why police and bylaws officers have allowed the street preachers to show up regularly

Two of the members of that group is accused of breaking the leg of Sportsnet 650's Justin Morissette on Saturday

Sgt. Aaron Roed said police officers have ordered the preachers to pack up and leave the area four times since June

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The MLA for Vancouver’s West End is asking why police or bylaw officers haven’t shut down anti-gay preachers who have been spewing hate over loudspeakers in his riding all summer.

Two of the members of that group are accused of breaking the leg of Sportsnet 650’s Justin Morissette on Saturday after he tried to turn down an amplifier.

“I don’t know why they were allowed to stand out there with amplifiers like that for as long as they have been. It breaks the noise bylaws, it breaks city rules. That, to me, should have been enough to shut them down long ago,” MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said.

“Yes, people have the freedom to speak, but they don’t have the freedom to spew hatred and call for violence against other people,” he added.

“From what folks have told me, and from what I’ve seen online, certainly they should never have been allowed to continue as they have been.”

Chandra Herbert questions why police and bylaws officers have allowed the street preachers to show up on a regular basis, shouting their message on a loudspeaker system in the heart of Vancouver’s LGTBQ+ neighbourhood.

“The set up on street corners, whether it’s down by the beach, up on Davie Street, set up a large amplifier. Sometimes there’s many of them, sometimes just one and two. They basically stand there and scream about the hatred they have for lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people and wrap it up in what they call religion. Just seems like an excuse for hate, to me,” he said.

“Does the bylaw have to be updated, is there a reason why they weren’t able to shut it down, because I know, certainly, when I read the bylaws, they look pretty clear to me — maybe there’s something I’m missing here.”

Arrests made

The Vancouver Police Department made two arrests in the incident involving Morrissette, who said two people set-up at Thurlow and Davie streets near where he lives on Saturday night.

Sgt. Aaron Roed said police officers have ordered the preachers to pack up and leave the area four times since June.

“They did at each of those situations,” he said.

“We will continue to respond to any of these types of allegations and incidents or any type of phone call to our emergency system that people are feeling unsafe in their communities.”

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The two people arrested were released with conditions and a date to appear in court. One of the conditions is a restriction for the area bordered by Comox Street to the north, Burrard Street to the east, Denman Street to the west, and Beach Avenue to the south. That includes English Bay Beach and Sunset Beach.

Preachings are despicable: mayor

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart commended the VPD for apprehending two suspects.

“I have absolute confidence in the VPD that they will handle this correctly, and I really wish the victim in this ordeal a very speedy recovery, and thank him for defending the West End and that community. Hate has no place in our city. The preachings of these folks are absolutely despicable,” Stewart said.

Morissette required surgery on his leg. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help him in his recovery.

“My brother is lying in a hospital bed recovering from surgery for an injury sustained in a violent attack in his Vancouver neighbourhood,” Kevin Morissette says on the page.

“Residents of the neighbourhood actively called the police asking for these individuals to be stopped – to no avail. The location of their preaching was not unplanned given the historic LGBTQIA2s+ history of Vancouver’s West End.”

The GoFundMe page set a goal of $25,000 and surpassed that goal in fewer tan 24 hours.

“In the coming months, Justin will be faced with medical bills, a loss of income, legal fees, rent and living costs. 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,” says his brother.

One of the men arrested posted a video to YouTube about the incident, claiming Morissette took his mircophone and ran away with it.

“I can’t say too much because it’s still an open case, and the police ended up arresting the Christians,” the man said, adding he is looking for a lawyer.