CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) — As the RCMP narrow down a suspect involved in a disturbing homophobic incident outside a book store in Chilliwack — the owners have been met with an overwhelming outpour of support during this ordeal.
The Book Man bookstore is a designated RCMP safe space for LGBTQ+ and two-spirit community members. But unfortunately, the owner of the bookstore, Amber Price, tells NEWS 1130 last week a man outside the store was “filled with vitriol and hatred” and “unleashed” on staff and Price’s husband “with a lot of anger and hatred.”
“At first, he had a lot to say to one of my beautiful staff members … and my husband overheard and immediately intervened because he could tell that something was happening that was untoward. And when the gentlemen saw my husband, he threatened him physically, if he was going to step out of the store, and my husband responded by stepping out of the store,” Price explains.
When her husband confronted the man, the suspect attempted to spit on her husband but missed.
Price says when the man found out he was on video surveillance, “the power dynamic changed significantly.”
“But in that short amount of time, he had a lot to say that was very shameful, very upsetting, and very derogatory,” she says.
“It’s amazing how much hatred can be condensed into such a short amount of time. It was only a couple of minutes. But it was impactful.”
Police in the area responded to the incident, but the man fled before the cops could arrive.
According to Price, Mayor Ken Popove has reached out.
“We’re working closely with them to try to bring us to resolution and get this man the help that he needs.”
Since posting to social media, Price says they’ve received a massive amount of support and even a number of tips, “and it looks like we may be successful in identifying him.”
“The community reached out to me in a way that I didn’t anticipate. And I think it’s really worth highlighting that because there was so much positivity in it,” she tells NEWS 1130.
“I had people emailing all the way from Alberta. We had people stopping by the store and telephoning us. We had emails coming in, messages coming in. I received four bouquets of flowers, baked goods.”
Price says many people have people just kept coming by to them how much it meant to them that the owners have stood up against the discrimination.
“We’ve got youth watching these situations, and I think it’s important that we send a clear message to them that we are no longer going to tolerate this as a society in general. We need to stand up and I think when we come together in kindness,” she says.
Price says while it’s important to her to have compassion for people who are “suffering from these kinds of misguided ideals,” in this instance, she says actions needed to be taken to stand up against hate in the community.
“I think it’s so important that even when somebody has a radically different opinion of us, that we hold compassion for that person because we don’t know where they’re coming from. We don’t know what their story is,” she says, adding, “It doesn’t change what he did. And it doesn’t change the fact that we need to take action, but we do have to still have compassion for each other.”
Price says she looks forward to finding this man and — as she puts it — getting him the help that he needs.