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Man who paid for JK Rowling billboard ‘arrested for antagonising and trying to punch protesters’

Josh Milton October 26, 2020
JK Rowling

The JK Rowling billboard was painted over within hours, (Twitter/@christophelston)

A man who paid for an “I heart JK Rowling” billboard following the author’s comments on trans lives has reportedly been arrested for “antagonising protestors and even attempting to punch someone”.

Plastered with the words “I [heart] JK Rowling” in a style similar to the I heart NY tourism campaign, the billboard in Vancouver, Canada, was defaced within hours of its unveiling last month.

The billboard was paid for by two Rowling fans, who proudly shared a photo of it and wrote an open letter stating: “We did this because we were inspired by Rowling standing up for the rights of women, girls and children.”

The move incensed not only local LGBT+ groups but city councillors as well, who described it as “messaging meant to stoke hate, exclusion and division”. Residents soon got together, cherry pickers and paint cans to hand, to daub the billboard and have it removed.

One month later, and reports claim that one of those behind the billboard has been arrested for “antagonising protestors and even attempting to punch someone”.

Vancouver law enforcement confirmed that an unidentified man was arrested Saturday afternoon (October 24). News 1130 subsequently reported that it was the same person as who was behind the Rowling billboard.

The arrest was made after hundreds of protesters packed the streets of Vancouver Art Gallery to protest against the treatment of of the Mi’kma’ki community in Nova Scotia, where commercial and Indigenous fishers have clashed over a contended lobster fishery.

“The suspect was taken to jail and released with a court date and conditions,” Vancouver Police Department constable Tania Visintin said.

Man who paid for JK Rowling billboard insists he’s ‘not transphobic’.

The arrest comes just a week after the suspect crashed an event for Nicola Spurling a trans woman running for the BC Greens Party, the outlet reported.

As Spurling was speaking with volunteers, the man arrived wearing a “I ❤ JK Rowling” sign as well as another which read: “Gender ideology does not belong in schools.”

His attendance quickly reignited a similar wave of outrage online, including from Spurling’s rival Coquitlam-Maillardville election candidates.

Indeed, the tinderbox issue of Rowling’s views on trans rights has seen her supporters regularly play with matches, often evoking the anti-trans playbook of inflamed freewheeling untruths.

On hearing that their billboard had been removed, the two Canadians complained to sign operator Pattison Outdoors in an open letter shared online.

“Rowling is not transphobic, and neither are we,” they wrote.

“Like her, we are concerned about the impact of gender identity ideology on the rights on women and girls. We ask that you stand with us, stand with women, and stand for free expression.”

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