A man has been arrested following an alleged assault on an office assistant of a member of B.C.'s legislative assembly.
The Vancouver Police Department says that on Friday morning a 53-year-old intoxicated man entered the constituency office of Spencer Chandra Herbert, the openly gay MLA of Vancouver-West End, and became involved in a dispute with a staff member.
In a statement released Monday, police said the man was asked to leave. Before doing so, however, he allegedly "damaged a door inside the office and punched the employee in the face."
Police say they arrived a few minutes later and found the man standing on a sidewalk, down the street from Chandra Herbert's office. The man was arrested without incident.
Incident being investigated as hate crime
Chandra Herbert says the man was apparently angry about a rainbow flag that hangs in the front window of his office, and about another rainbow flag that is displayed in a window at the West End Community Centre.
"My assistant is recovering from the incident, but we are both shaken and shocked that someone felt it acceptable to express their hateful views by assaulting a government worker and damaging government property,” he said in a written statement Monday.
"This attack will only encourage me to redouble efforts to ensure our government is taking all steps to support our province’s diverse communities and stand against hate."
The 53-year-old man has been released without charges, and is expected to appear in court April 4.
Still, Chandra Herbert said he is in shock.
"A neighbour felt it was okay to come in, spread his hate, attack a government worker and attack a goverment office for our support of equality," he said.
The incident is now being investigated by the Vancouver Police Hate Crimes Unit.
"We don't know his background regarding incidents of this nature but we do know he has a record with police," said VPD Const. Sandra Glendinning.
'Not an isolated incident'
Executive director Dara Parker of Qmunity — a resource centre for the LGBT community in Vancouver's West End — said although the neighbourhood is generally considered safe for LGBT individuals, these types of incidences do still happen.
"Any time anyone is launching a homophobic slur that's rooted in hate it should be prosecuted as a hate crime," she said.