The owner of Pulp Fiction Books has released a public apology in regard to an incident that occurred outside of the independent book store’s Commercial Drive location.
According to the post—which was written on August 20 by the store's owner, Cristopher Brayshaw—an unnamed staff member answered a phone call from a client who wanted to know if he could sell some books to the store.
The staff member told the client, who is Indigenous, that he would be "happy to look" at them. However, he later received a phone call from another bookstore "that made him feel uncomfortable about buying the client’s books".
When the man arrived in the store, the staff member told him that he was no longer able to buy his books. The client then began to throw his books around on the sidewalk before an altercation broke out, according to the post.
"For reasons I do not understand and definitely do not agree with," it reads, "the staff member chose to leave the store and hurl the client’s books back at him. An altercation ensued that ended up with a 9-1-1 call and the staff member and client being interviewed by the VPD."
Brayshaw later apologizes for the incident on behalf of the store and the staff member, who resigned on August 21.
"To be clear: the client did nothing that excuses or explains his treatment by my staff. Our response was unconscionable, offending even basic standards of common sense, good judgment, and empathy. The staff member and I apologize, unreservedly, to the client and his family for our collective failure."
Brayshaw's post differs somewhat from an account of the incident written on Facebook by a woman named Brittany Appleby, who is a cousin of the client.
Appleby's post alleges that after her cousin threw "one of his books" onto the ground, "the guy followed him outside and proceeded to punch him in the head and then continuously punch and grab him in front of his 5 year old."
When contacted by the Georgia Straight via telephone, Brayshaw said that the accounts he heard from both parties in the incident "sharply diverge at points", and that he's unable to reconcile the differences between them.
However, when asked if his now-former staff member tried to punch the client, Brayshaw said his former staff member admitted to punching him but denied hitting him more than once. Brayshaw added that he also wants to meet with the client himself in order to hear his perspective.
Appleby's post also characterizes the incident as a “blatant act of racism” and claims that her cousin "felt immediately profiled while walking into the store".
Brayshaw denies this, claiming that his former staff member did not know he was Indigenous until he spoke with the police about it.
He also said that he has received multiple complaints on social media about why his staff member was not immediately fired. He explained that he wanted to take time to think over the situation and confirm what exactly had happened before rushing to make any firing decisions.
“I wanted to make sure of all the facts before I made any firing decision. Some of the facts were things that I genuinely still cannot reconcile because I have not spoken to the Indigenous man directly.”
When asked why his staff member rejected the man's books, he said the other bookstore that phoned him had previously looked at his books and noticed they felt cold, thus leading them to suspect he had put the books in a freezer to kill off bedbugs or moth larvae.
The Georgia Straight contacted the Vancouver Police Department to ask about the incident. In an emailed statement, Const. Steve Addison wrote: “VPD officers investigated an incident that occurred at the bookstore on August 18 around 3:30 p.m. and spoke with both parties involved, as well as witnesses. The investigation has been concluded. No charges have been recommended.”