Man accused of assault at gay MLA’s office denies being homophobic
Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:06AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:55AM PST
The man accused of attacking a staff member at the Vancouver office of an openly gay MLA is denying claims of assault and says he is not homophobic.
West End resident Michael Williams, 53, is facing charges of assault and mischief under $5,000 for the alleged attack at the office of NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert last month.
Chandra Herbert claimed the man stormed into his office on Feb. 21 shouting homophobic slurs at a constituency assistant, punching a hole in an office door and then punching the assistant in the face.
Williams told CTV News Monday he went to the office to complain about a rainbow flag flying outside a local community centre, but denied assaulting anyone.
“To the extent that there was any assault, that isn’t true,” he said. “I simply went in to speak to Mr. Chandra Herbert for a brief follow-up to a conversation I had with him two months previously about the rainbow flag.”
Williams said his issue stemmed from there being a special interest flag on a public library, but did not have a problem with the rainbow flag specifically. He said he’s been living in the West End for more than 10 years and has no problem with gay people, being openly bisexual himself.
“It’s not who I am, I’m not a homophobic person. He’s picking the wrong person to throw that accusation at,” he said. Williams said he called the office assistant a liar after he was told Chandra Herbert wasn’t in the office, and that’s what sparked the altercation.
“I don’t think either one of us landed anything, but he grabbed my shoulder, I tried to get him off of me. I’ve got arthritis in my back and a busted left shoulder,” he said. “It lasted less than a second or two, it wasn’t a full-blown fight.”
Police arrested Williams, whom they described as intoxicated, down the street from the officer a short time later.
Williams denied he was drunk and said he had been drinking the night before.
Chandra Herbert said he didn’t witness the fight first-hand, but was on scene moments after the alleged assault occurred.
"To me, this looked like this attack came from somebody who was full of hate, who decided to take their hatred out on my assistant and my office,” he said at the B.C. legislature in Victoria. “It was an incident that shook us up.”
The Vancouver Hate Crimes Unit is now investigating the case, but it’s ultimately up to a judge to decide whether or not the incident will be labelled a hate crime.
Williams’ next court appearance is scheduled for April 4.