Discover more from Year Zero
"I have to be like Gandhi out there. I will just take the hits."
Over the last two years, Billboard Chris has been assaulted twenty times while protesting against the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender surgeries on children on the streets of North American cities. The video above, which documents the most dramatic of those assaults, a premeditated ambush by a group of men in Montreal, grabbed my attention when I saw it cross my timeline in August. A few days later I proposed traveling with him. It turned out he was about to embark on the weeklong journey through the outer extremes of America’s political geography at a crucial inflection point in the evolution of the gender ideology on which I wound up joining him. I’ve been working my way through the dozens of hours of video and audio I captured along the way in preparation for the long feature story and shorter podcast I’ll be posting here, and will continue to share discrete episodes from it, where they emerge, including this one, wherein he recounts the attack in detail.
The assault is one a long series of moments that crystalize the Twilight Zone—like unreality into which Chris chose to immerse himself, driven by the conviction that he cannot bear to live in a society that doses children with a cancer drug once used to chemically castrate sex offenders before we judged it to be an inhumane punishment. In this inverted world, refraining from engaging in medical experimentation on children makes one a Nazi, and one “Protects Trans Kids” by placing them on a pipeline to becoming lifelong medical patients. Anarchists rage at parents trying to protect children caught up in an online social contagion from the medical risks they are courting— and the whole of our medical and educational establishments, the mega-corporations dominating our culture industries, and the leadership of our ruling political party all speak in one voice in alignment with those putative radicals and against those parents. To travel with Billboard Chris is to plunge oneself entirely into this alternate reality that has subsumed our own, wherein real bodies of actual children are sacrificed on the altar of the astro-turfed pseudo-morality, the rising heathen dogma of our nonprofit and corporate laptop classes who style themselves as the vanguard of humanity while deifying unconstrained human will and desire as the ultimate good which serves as a warrant for the oligarchical powers that be to manage democracy and stifle dissent.
Wesley Yang: Of course, you've been under the radar where you have not been under the intense scrutiny, so you're gonna test your calm temperament.
Chris Elston: Well, I've had pretty intense scrutiny up in Canada. For sure it's yeah. I've been through— there's nothing now that's gonna faze me. It's just more of the same.
Chris Elston: Like when I got my arm broken, it was one hour before curfew. They had a curfew at 8pm. But it was busy on the street. The video doesn't show how busy it was because people scattered as soon as I got attacked, and then they all came back to the sidewalk again. But it was very busy on that street. It was Saint-Catherine Street, you know, Saint-Catherine?
Wesley Yang: So they were soy men, and yet, and yet they broke your arm?
Chris Elston: Well, they were—I mean, there's one bigger guy. I wouldn't characterize those—there were a few more guys who had fled already. The last guy was pretty big—
Wesley Yang: But you did not fight back at all? Did you defend yourself?
Chris Elston: No, I didn't even say a word.
Wesley Yang: Could you defend yourself?
Chris Elston: Well, I defended my face from getting smashed in by the base of the traffic cone with my forearm. I blocked it four times in a row. And I think I was annoying him actually, because he kept trying to hit me in the head. And I just kept going like this.
Wesley Yang: But it's just a plastic traffic cone.
Chris Elston: Yeah but the base on those things is really thick. It's very dense. It was a big one, too.
Wesley Yang: I mean—
Chris Elston: But I hear what you're saying. But the base on those things is probably like eight pounds—
Wesley Yang: Would you have been justified in fighting back at a time like that?
Chris Elston: Well, sure. I mean, he's trying to smash my face in.
Wesley Yang: And yet, you did not?
Chris Elston: No, I had already made a conscious decision that I’m never fighting back. I have to be like Gandhi out there. I will just take the hits. I don't want to be scrapping out on the street. One time I pushed a guy who sucker punched me from behind. I hadn't even seen him coming, next thing I knew I was actually stunned. I got hit from behind, in the side of my head, and I kinda—I blanked out for probably seven or eight seconds. And honestly, I had a flashback to when I was in grade eight and I got sucker punched in the hallway by this boy named Peter [inaudible]. And then I kind of snapped out of it, and these two young guys —this is downtown Vancouver, there's people everywhere—and there were some young guys I kind of knew who hang out there, and they take pictures of things. And they pointed this guy out to me, and he was standing at the crosswalk like nothing had happened. And so I walked up to get his picture for the police, because that’s an assault, and he ran. And I'm probably still slightly dazed or whatever, but I was tired of getting assaulted, and all this abuse I've been taking. This was December of 2020, after Christmas, like the 29th, or something.
Wesley Yang: Is that the one that was on video?
Chris Elston: No. Well, I have a bit of video at the end. And he started to run. So I ran after him because we are allowed to do citizen’s arrests in Canada. I know my rights, and I wanted to stop him for police. So I gave him a single push to stop him from running. I caught up to him, and I didn't want to trip him, because I didn't want to hurt him–because I know how this works. But I thought if I push him into this wall, that'll break his momentum. And I did. So I gave him a single push. He fell down, he stayed down. I walked away to de-escalate. I did everything right. And then I got arrested.
They released me. The guy admitted on camera that he hit me from behind. And they booked me and everything, fingerprinted me, they put me in a cell. I hadn't even laid down in my jail bed yet when they opened the door, and they let me go. And they even coached me on how to do citizen’s arrests, these officers. So that was December 2020.
The beginning of March 2021, I get a phone call from Vancouver Police, and they're looking at charging me with assault causing bodily harm stemming from that incident. So they wanted me to come in and give a statement. I talked to a lawyer—the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in Canada was going to represent me pro bono—and he said no, Chris, don't go and give a statement, he used to be a prosecutor. He said they're just trying to build a case against you. So I didn't go in. And—but it scared me. Because I don't want a criminal record—for honestly, just exercising my rights. But the way things are in Canada, you know, who knows what your judge is gonna be like.
So, I mean, I wasn't too worried about it, but still it's—I don't want to get some sort of record, for some ridiculous thing like that. And so I vowed right then and there I’m never touching anyone again because the police aren't on my side. I've been arrested before after getting assaulted, never even touched anyone. Right in front of police. I've got video of that. And so I just said I’m never touching anyone again. And you run these scenarios through your head.
Well what do you know, a week after that phone call, I'm in Montreal. And I didn't know these Antifa people were coming until they were literally three feet away from me. And I got punched in the face immediately. I got–I had people coming from my left, people coming from my front, they’d crossed the street. And my front and back signs were ripped off simultaneously.
And uh, the first minute of that is kind of a blur. One guy took my sign with my body cam clipped to it, into the middle of the street and he stomped on it. I'm pretty sure he took that sign and put it in a car and drove off. I couldn't find the sign or body cam after. But I was getting punched and pushed, and so then, I wasn't gonna run away from these guys because I’m not gonna run from these creeps. But I backed away down the sidewalk. I still haven't said a word and I pulled out my phone to film, to get their images, and that's the video that you’ve seen on Twitter.
Wesley Yang: So your arm was broken?
Chris Elston: Not yet. So at that point, I'm backing away down the sidewalk just filming. And that's when he picked up the traffic cone, and he swung it at my head. I blocked it with my forearm. I believe on the second blow it broke my arm, but I didn't know that at the time. You can actually hear it click in the video. And then a guy came with his mustard bottle and he squirted me with mustard. And I just kept walking away. And they eventually gave up and casually walked down the street.
Wesley Yang: So when did you realize you had to go out to go to hospital with your arm?
Chris Elston: Oh, pretty—right after that video, I went, oh my arm, it’s hurting pretty bad. And I thought it might be broken, for sure.
Wesley Yang: So in the midst of the adrenaline, you don't even feel it?
Chris Elston: I recall that, okay, this is hurting, as I'm blocking these—because I was blocking—I blocked two heavy strikes with a broken arm. But yeah, during the adrenaline, it's not that big a deal. And I'm used to injuring myself, too; I've played sports all my life. So you know, broken bones are not that big a deal.
Wesley Yang: How long does that take to heal?
Chris Elston: Well, it wasn't healing. So months later, I had surgery to put it together. And it's kind of annoying because it still aches sometimes. I think it depends on—I don't know why, but maybe it's humidity or something. Some days, it just aches. I need to get the plate out. I hear that once they take the steel plate out, that aching just goes away. They told me I could come back in six months or a year and get the plate out, but I just haven’t.
Wesley Yang: And your wife and kids, after that, aren’t like, you know, demanding that you not risk yourself, or—
Chris Elston: No, no. That was what upset me the most, is that it upset my girls, you know. The next morning I Zoom-called with them. I wasn't going to tell them the night of because I didn't want them going to bed upset like that. But Mila, my little one, just kind of withdrew a bit because they could see my face was banged up, too.
And at the time, I mean it's a little scary, you don't know what's happening, you got people coming at you from every direction. I don't know how crazy these people are. I took a —there was that one big guy there, and I took a really big shot kind of to the back–base of my head, which left a dent. I remember thinking, okay, he kind of hit me in a spot where that might knock someone out, but I'm fine. It’s those sideways shots that tend to knock people out. I don’t know if you follow boxing. But my chiropractor was trying to pull out a dent at the base of my skull. It’s kinda, I don't know what you call that area, it’s right at the base. I guess there's cartilage and stuff.
Ok, we’re almost there.