Since June, a group of street preachers has been hanging out in Vancouver’s West End, the city’s gay village, to spread an anti-LGBTQ message in the name of Jesus, using megaphones and microphones to amplify their voices.
Residents say that, sooner or later, a violent altercation was inevitable.
That happened over the weekend, when neighborhood resident Justin Morissette (below) stood up to the group of bullies… and was seriously injured in the process.
The group in question is the Toronto-based Ministry of the Word. Its leader, Dorre Love, has an anti-LGBTQ history that spans much of the country. Just over a year ago, he was in Ottawa, disrupting a Drag Queen Storytime event being held as part of Capital Pride. The previous summer, he videotaped his ministry protesting the Toronto Pride Parade.
This summer, he’s apparently set his sights on the west coast.
Speaking to Vancouver’s News 1130, Morissette says he believes the group was deliberately targeting the West End because of its LGBTQ population. Repeated calls to the police resulted in no action being taken. Another local resident, Lynne Polischuik, says the police refused to enforce noise bylaws, citing free speech:
I myself have called 911 twice, I’ve called the non-emergency line. They’re very sympathetic, they do send officers out, but they don’t seem to do anything. I know folks here have also reached out to the city. It just seems to be this passing of the buck back and forth where police say: “It’s a protest, it’s free speech, we can’t do anything, and it has to be enforced by bylaw.” Then bylaw doesn’t do anything to touch it or stop it.
[We expect] some enforcement of noise bylaws, at the minimum. Some kind of ticketing or fine, something to keep these folks from coming back and just… antagonizing the neighborhood with impunity.
Police say their role in protests involves monitoring them for criminal activity, not shutting them down. There appears to be no procedure in place to address ongoing harassment by unwelcome actors who can’t be appeased because they’re protesting against the very existence of LGBTQ people and communities.
Left to find a solution on their own, the people of the West End have tried ignoring them, they’ve tried documenting, they’ve tried debating, they’ve tried counter-protests. They even set up a Disco Task Force to drown them out with music and dancing. And on the weekend, Morissette tried just telling Dorre Love and his followers to get lost:
They are looking for trouble, and I guess [Sunday] night trouble found them. It happened to be me who stepped up and said, “You are not welcome in this community by saying these things. Pack your things and go somewhere else.” They refused to do that. I asked them, if they were going to stay, if they would at least turn the volume down because I really cannot stress enough how obscenely loud these speakers are. You can hear them for blocks, and blocks, and blocks.
When Love refused to budge an inch, Morissette responded by taking his microphone away, refusing to give it back until the group agreed to leave. That’s when things got physical with Love and his followers:
In a judo-style takedown he wrenched my leg against his until my tibia and fibula snapped, broke, and my knee dislocated. He absolutely one-thousand per cent knew that was going to happen when he did that; this was a malicious intentional break of my leg.
Morissette says he expects to be in the hospital for weeks. He’s already had one surgery on his leg and is likely to need another. He’ll have metal plates in his leg for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, Love is crying “Christian discrimination” on social media, claiming in a YouTube video that he was “arrested for being beat up” and “arrested for preaching the Gospel.” Conveniently, he never once mentions that the man he paints as his attacker is the only party to the altercation who’s lying in a hospital bed.
Vancouver MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert says he has contacted the police to ask why no action was taken concerning the Ministry of the Word’s targeted harassment campaign, which violated hate-speech laws as well as noise ordinances. He says the West End community has simply been asked to absorb too much:
When you spread hate and you target lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender people in the West End, or no matter what community, people won’t stand for it. And it boiled over the weekend. It never should have come to this.
Dorre Love has shown a consistent pattern of spreading misery wherever he goes, attacking LGBTQ people while using freedom of speech and religion as a shield to excuse his actions, however harmful or unwelcome. Targeting people for hate in their own homes is despicable, and playing the victim after putting a man in the hospital is disgusting.
If nothing else, here’s hoping it’s finally time for him to reap what he’s sown.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Nelson for the link)