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Lonsdale Quay pride flag vandal pleads guilty in North Vancouver

His actions were hateful and should carry a criminal record, Crown says
A pride progress flag flies at the Lonsdale Quay waterfront in North Vancouver. | Nick Laba / North Shore News

The man accused of tearing down and vandalizing a pride flag from the Lonsdale Quay waterfront pleaded guilty to two counts of mischief in North Vancouver Provincial Court on Friday.

Kristopher Kamienik, 51, was arrested and charged in July 2023 after the pride flag incident. There were also several other occasions earlier that year where he defaced the offices of local members of Parliament and the legislative assembly, the court heard.

Crown counsel Eleasha Sabourin told the judge that Kamienik should receive a suspended sentence for the first charge, which would leave him with a criminal record but no jail time. The second offence should be met with a conditional discharge, Sabourin said, and require the accused to pay restitution for damages caused, with other conditions including restrictions from going to certain areas.

In May 2023, an employee at Lonsdale Quay reported to police that the progress pride flag had been cut from the pole. The progress flag has the six rainbow colours of the original pride flag, with additional colours added in a V-shape to represent transgender people and communities of colour.

A video of the flag vandalism was played in court, showing Kamienik holding the flag taken off the nearby pole, calling the flag “ugly” and “pedo” and saying that he was going to burn it.

While Crown and the defence agreed on most aspects of their submissions, Sabourin argued that Kamienik’s actions with the pride flag were hateful, which should be considered an aggravating factor in his sentencing.

The accused is suggesting that transgender people or others associated with the progress flag are pedophiles, Sabourin said.

There is a very large difference between people’s gender identity or sexual orientation and the suggestion that they molest children, one of the gravest offences in society, Sabourin added.

“From the Crown’s perspective, and hopefully the court will find, that these are words meant to incite hate towards that community or those communities,” she said.

The Crown lawyer cited several cases where the accused were found to have committed hate crimes. In all of them, requests from defence for a conditional discharge – which carries no criminal record – had been rejected, Sabourin said.

“The court has found that it would be contrary to the public interest to impose a conditional discharge in those circumstances,” she said.

Actions were not motivated by hate, defence argues

Defence lawyer Jordan Allingham argued that Kamienik was not motivated by hate.

Kamienik had no prior criminal record, acknowledged the wrongness of his behaviour at an early stage in the proceedings, has expressed remorse and committed to new forms of pro-social expression, Allingham said.

Earlier in life, his client suffered sexual abuse at a young age, and was bullied for being gay, he added.

After facing difficulties finding employment in the pandemic due to his anti-government views, the progress pride flag became a symbol of divisiveness to Kamienik, Allingham said. “As he put it, the progressive flag was a further reminder of him being bullied for being different,” he said.

By cutting down the flag, “he believed he was making an expressive statement fighting against what he believed was virtue signalling – he was not motivated by hate,” Allingham said.

Addressing the court directly, Kamienik said his actions were never meant to hurt or harm anybody.

“I hope that your honour will take into consideration my upbringing and the challenges that I’ve faced, and just my frustration, and being sick of having been bullied myself my whole life,” he said.

The sentencing hearing is expected to continue in late January or early February.