The owner of Flygirl Productions alleges a man shouted homophobic slurs and then punched her on the jaw as she was putting up event flyers in the breezeway leading to Little Sister’s bookstore.
Leigh Cousins says she was at one of the breezeway bulletin boards when she heard a commotion behind her on Apr 28.
“You fuckin’ pussy, fuckin’ faggot” a man allegedly shouted at the top of his lungs to another man, who ducked into the bookstore. Cousins says the man who was allegedly “doing all the harassing” continued past Little Sister’s and around to the patio of Melriches Coffeehouse, continuing to “natter on about fag this and pussy that.”
At that point, she says, she decided to intervene.
“I thought it was really obnoxious, especially at Little Sister’s 25th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of the Pride parade. This is kind of like hallowed ground and I found it really offensive,” says Cousins who admits she started “babbling back” at him.
“It went so fast. He came towards me and he was right close, being very intimidating,” she says.
“He said something to me like, ‘Oh shut up, dyke bitch,’ Cousins alleges. “I just didn’t like it, and called him on it.”
Cousins says she raised her finger to tell the man to go away, and in doing so, accidentally hit the baseball cap he was wearing.
“I think he thought I was knocking it off or something,” she speculates, “and the next thing I knew I was on the ground, and my jaw was out of alignment and my eyes swelled up. I just grabbed my jaw and I just screamed for someone to grab onto him, and hang onto him.”
Cousins says she remembers Little Sister’s co-owner Jim Deva coming up at that juncture. With help from a couple of Melriches patrons, Deva caught up with the man in the alleyway behind the bookstore and the café and watched him until police arrived.
The day after the incident, Deva tells Xtra West he heard a ruckus outside his store and decided to investigate. He found Cousins on the ground outside Little Sister’s door with two or three people around her.
“They screamed that someone had just cold-decked her,” says Deva, who immediately called out to one of his employees, Mel Bissell, to phone the police.
Deva says he then decided to follow the man into the back laneway and watched him try to conceal himself among the buildings there until the police arrived some five to 10 minutes later.
Checking on Cousins once back at the store, Deva says she was “not in good condition, sore and in some pain.” But, he says, she did the right thing by confronting the man.
“The guy was uttering profanities and hate kind of speech towards a customer going into the store,” alleges Deva. “[Cousins] pointed out that it was inappropriate in this neighbourhood.”
Deva alleges the man, whom he describes as six feet tall, is a known binner and “part of our neighbourhood.” He had too much to drink and began acting out, Deva suspects.
Vancouver Police Department media spokesperson Const Tim Fanning says a 45-year-old Vancouver man was arrested for being drunk in the laneway behind Little Sister’s. According to the police report, a woman was putting up posters at the bulletin board outside the bookstore when a drunk man came along and “made some derogatory remarks.”
Fanning says the report doesn’t specify what derogatory remarks the man allegedly made.
According to the report, he says, it seems the woman and man “had some words.”
“Then he claims she took a swing at him. This is what we’re being told,” Fanning says. “And then he punched her in the face.”
Police arrested a man in the lane behind Little Sister’s, Fanning confirms, noting there was one witness to the incident.
As yet, no assault charges have been laid against the man in connection with the incident.
Deva says it’s important for police to record any homophobic remarks made in incidents like the one outside his store to ensure that a hate crime designation can be sought at sentencing, if the suspect is charged with assault and convicted.
Fanning says if Cousins wants to pursue the matter she should contact the investigating officer.
“I couldn’t find anything in [the report] that said she did or she didn’t,” he says.
“Absolutely,” emphasizes Cousins when asked if she plans to file a complaint. Almost a week after the incident, Cousins says she is actively pursuing the matter.
She believes the incident warrants a hate crime designation. “It was clearly homophobic slurs. Clearly,” she alleges, adding that the man “had a serious anger about gays. But we’ll see,” she says.
“It just felt incredibly ridiculous that this kind of act happened in this day and age, 10 feet from Little Sister’s doors. This isn’t just a bookstore,” Cousins maintains. “This is everything to a lot of people. We didn’t want him to get away with it.”