'No regrets at all': Vancouver man whose leg was broken in confrontation with anti-gay preachers speaks out
VANCOUVER -- In his moments of excruciating pain lying on the hospital bed, Justin Morissette replays Saturday evening's confrontation, wondering whether he made the right decision.
Morissette confronted a group of anti-gay demonstrators who were situated at the corner of Davie and Thurlow streets in the heart of Vancouver's LGBTQ community.
"I was not going to stand idly back and let these men just verbally attack my neighbours because you could look around in the crowd and see how hurtful and upsetting it was," Morissette told CTV News over video chat from his hospital room. "They are there to antagonize. They are there to make people feel threatened where they live. And I just could not accept that I was not going to allow that to happen."
Morissette said he tried to turn down the amplifier, but the demonstrators turned it back up. He then grabbed the microphone and the confrontation escalated.
"He put his right leg behind my left leg, and with the full Nelson still locked in, wrenched my body into his leg until my leg snapped and broke in multiple places and I fell to the ground in agony," he said.
He was supposed to go on a first date that night and just as he was lying on the ground, he felt his pocket rumble. It was his date.
"That was our first meeting, was me screaming in agony on the ground and my body propped up against a garbage can as she looked on from the Starbucks…unfortunately, our evening was ruined," he said.
When he got to the hospital, he learned his tibia and fibula were broken and his knee was dislocated.
He said doctors told him they cannot perform invasive surgery until the swelling goes down and it's expected to be a complicated one.
"There's an enormous artery and a lot of nerve endings that run through the back of your knee, and he's very concerned that in the attempt to try and set the bones right, he might damage those nerves," he said.
In Morissette's agony, he wondered whether confronting the so-called street preachers was the right move.
But the response from the LGBTQ community has swayed any doubts.
"(A nurse) put his hand on my arm and said, 'Thank you for sticking up for us,' and that just moved me to tears, honestly. Obviously, it's doing it again," he said as tears start to stream down his face.
"You have to tell these aggressors that this is not acceptable behaviour. And that's what I did. I paid an enormous price for it, but I don't regret it at all."
As for that date, another one is being rescheduled.
"I would say there never was a first date in the first place so we will get a second crack at a first date, though I would hope I don't hear a crack," he said.
His brother started an online fundraising campaign, which has already surpassed its $25,000 goal in less than 24 hours.
Vancouver police have recommended charges of aggravated assault and mischief against two men and its hate crimes unit is also investigating to see if charges will be pursued.