On Saturday, Burnaby Citizens Association school trustee Larry Hayes was slammed by two candidates running for city council over the infamous altercation that happened last Wednesday night between him and a woman holding a baby.
The comments occurred at the all-candidates meeting for mayoral and council candidates held at Crystal Mall.
During the course of the forum on Saturday, Burnaby First Coalition candidate Charter Lau and Burnaby Green candidate Mehreen Chaudry discussed the altercation that took place in front of a doorway. The incident happened after the trustee candidates’ meeting was cut short due to shouting between people arguing about the SOGI 123 policy.
Chaudry said it was “uncalled for,” and Lau appealed to Hayes to say sorry.
“BCA and Larry Hayes, be a man and apologize, otherwise you will lose support in the community,” Lau told the crowd assembled for the debate.
The BCA, however, is not apologizing for Hayes’ part of the altercation.
In a statement emailed to the NOW Sunday, the BCA tried to explain why Hayes behaved the way he behaved. I’ve watched the video in question and the woman with the baby steps in front of Hayes in what I consider an attempt to talk to him. However, when she steps in front of Hayes, she is, technically, blocking a doorway but, as I said, it seemed like an attempt to talk to him – not block his way. It just happened to take place in a doorway. After all, Hayes is not just some random dude - he is an elected official so it makes sense for a constituent to want to discuss an issue with him.
But according to the BCA’s statement, it was an attempt to block him. Frankly, I don’t see how they can read the woman’s mind about what her motives were, but this is how the statement reads:
“Mr. Hayes was ultimately unable to leave as a result of a person physically moving to block him from doing so. Our campaign has spoken with Mr. Hayes and he has relayed that he felt both scared and trapped by those disrupting the meeting as did many other attendees.”
Now before you laugh at the thought of being scared of a woman holding an adorable baby, consider that they are not saying he was scared of that. They say he was scared of those “disrupting” the meeting. It was pure chaos all around him as people were shouting and pointing fingers at each other. I’m sure if felt pretty intense. So I have plenty of sympathy for that. I’m sure he wanted to get out of that place fast and it’s difficult to tell if he told the woman with the baby to move out of his way.
All I really know is I wish Hayes had turned around and walked away instead of moving forward into the woman holding an innocent baby. That would have been the ideal situation.
The statement continues that “Mr. Hayes regrets that he was present and that these disruptions took place. In no way was Mr. Hayes the cause of these disruptions.”
On that part, the BCA is correct – the anti-SOGI people in the crowd ruined the event by shouting while trustee candidates were trying to give answers.
In the BCA’s statement, they bring up something many people on social media have referenced. That the anti-SOGI crowd filmed everything so it could be released right afterwards. Well, in this day and age of cell phones filming every confrontation out there, it seems like a pretty weak criticism. Everybody films everything. So what?
Maybe the anti-SOGI crowd was trying to provoke a confrontation so they could film it and blow it up into a larger incident.
That doesn’t mean Hayes had to indulge them. It doesn’t matter what anyone’s motives were, if he had just walked away and let cooler heads prevail then we wouldn’t even be talking about this anymore.
The Burnaby RCMP interviewed everyone involved that night and so it’s up to them to untangle things.
In the meantime, can people please start acting like grownups?
- With additional reporting by Cornelia Naylor and Maria Rantanen