Police recommend charges after man's leg broken in confrontation with anti-gay preachers
VANCOUVER -- Days after Justin Morissette's leg was broken during an altercation with anti-gay preachers in Vancouver's West End, police have recommended charges against two suspects.
Morissette remained in hospital Monday after undergoing surgery for the injuries he suffered while arguing with people preaching with a microphone and speaker at Davie and Thurlow streets Saturday night.
His brother told CTV News that Morissette lives nearby, and had "stepped in and told them to turn it down."
"He doesn’t want to have to hear them, doesn’t want the people of Davie Street to have to listen to them," Kevin Morissette said.
Sgt. Aaron Roed with Vancouver police said the interaction was heated and turned to blows, with people "shoving back and forth." It ended with Morissette being thrown to the ground.
Morissette was taken to hospital with a broken tibia, broken fibula and a dislocated knee, according to his family.
“He was definitely quite roughed up by them,” his brother said. "He’s a very gentle guy. All he wanted to do was keep the peace for his neighbourhood and stand up for his community.”
Vancouver police arrested two men and have since recommended charges of aggravated assault and mischief. The suspects have since been released on several conditions, including that they appear in court when a date is set, avoid speaking to each other or Morissette, and not enter the West End bordered by Comox Street to the north, Burrard Street to the east, Denman Street to the west and Beach Avenue to the South. This area includes English Bay and Sunset Beach.
According to sources, one of the men arrested is Dorre Love, identified as a minister. CTV News reached out to him but has not heard back.
Saturday's altercation is not the first time police have dealt with these preachers. Earlier this month, a man was held to the ground at English Bay after confronting them.
Kerry Saby, who lives in the area, said he wants to see his community contact Mayor Kennedy Stewart about noise pollution. “I believe that a lot of the community needs to get a hold of city hall and the mayor and find out why he’s not pursuing on making the bylaws a bit more tougher,” he told CTV News.
“Hate has no place in our city,” said Mayor Stewart during a news conference Monday. "The preachings of these folks are absolutely despicable and have no place in our city.”
He went on to wish Morissette a speedy recover and thank him for "defending the West End and that community.”
Saby recorded video earlier Saturday before the altercation showing the group preaching at English Bay. “The police stood there around and basically just (listened) to make sure that they weren’t saying anything that was hateful,” he said.
“It’s very unfortunate that it’s not the first time this group has appeared and it’s upsetting that it had to get to this point to get them stopped,” said Kevin Morissette.
Officers in the Vancouver Police Department’s Hate Crime Unit are investigating at least four other incidents along with this one. “They were treading a fine line speaking about religious beliefs and anti-gay sentiment. Did they cross that line? That’s what our investigators are going to find out,” said Roed.
Police are asking anyone who witnesses the preaching, or has video to contact them.
“No matter how disgusting or different these points of view are, Vancouver police are not going to tolerate hate crimes within our communities,” said Roed,. "I’m not going to put up with it, and I know our officers in the VPD are not going to put up with it. And we’re going to do everything we can to investigate this and see if we can proceed with charges.”
Saby said he’s just grateful to Morissette for standing up.
"It’s nice that we have people to stand up in our community whether they’re gay, transgender or straight,” he said. As for his message to the preachers: “Love is love,” Saby told CTV News. “We conquer everything with love, that’s how life gets better.”
Morissette’s family has started a GoFundMe page to help with his medical bills, saying it could be up to six months of rehab before he can walk again.