“I Made A Citizen’s Arrest”: Kevin Johnston Arrested After Punching Grocery Store Employee In BC

He’s still awaiting trial for hate speech, was ordered by the courts to pay $2.5 million in damages - for what a Judge called “hate speech at its worst” - and is running for mayor of Calgary. Now he’s fighting grocery store employees over a bar of soap.

Peter Smith
Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Kevin Johnston, a reactionary anti-Muslim vlogger, who recently made headlines for a racist, anti-Indigenous and anti-Muslim coffee company he started, was arrested outside of a British Columbia grocery store on Thursday. Multiple livestreams show him being refused service, taking the products anyway after throwing a $5 bill on a register belt, and even punching the store owner during an altercation in the parking lot. 

Somehow he still finds time to run for mayor. 

Johnston has been on a tour of sorts. Traversing the western provinces with fellow far-right content creator Derek Storie ahead of his Calgary mayoral run and shooting video along the way. Recent clips include him threatening to deploy his “army,” the Calgary Police Service, after antifascists once in office.

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Video of the incident outside of a Dawson Creek, BC, No Frills was taken from a few angles. The footage shows the interaction from start to finish. 

Storie and Johnston approach the store, flanked by two others, identified online as Janelle Haney and Lonny Averill. Johnston regularly streams his unmasked retail stunts, provoking reactions and gleefully participating in confrontations with beleaguered staff. 

Their mission that day: purchasing a bar of soap.

“For all you people in Dawson who try to go to Dawson and get kicked out for wearing a mask, well there you go. Kevin is doing it for you,” Haney says from behind a camera. 

Upon entry, an employee asks them to put on a mask. Breezing past, they all claim an “exemption.” Walking the aisles they grumble about the store’s “militant policy” as they are asked repeatedly to put on a mask or leave.

Despite being refused service multiple times, Johnston attempts to leave $5 for his items. The store flatly refuses to accept the payment. Soap in hand, he makes his way to the door. 

On the way, a man identified as the store owner allegedly “touched” Kevin. 

“I may or may not call the police,” Kevin says into his camera, chuckling as they exit. “Remember what I told you guys, if you want to go to Costco without a membership and they won’t serve you. What do you do? Leave the cash, walk out the door.”

“I like Irish Spring, how stupid could you possibly be,” he adds. 

“I told you it’s bad there,” Haney says. 

This easily could have been the end of the interaction as the foursome walked towards their vehicle.

However, two of the store employees follow them to the parking lot. When one, the owner, attempts to photograph their license plate, Johnston holds his phone inches from the man’s face. Reaching out, the owner bats it away, knocking it out of Johnston’s hands.

Immediately, the owner is met with a punch to the face.

The situation progresses quickly from there. 

“That’s twice you assaulted me,” Johnston shouts, demanding the cops be called. This doesn’t seem to be a problem as the store owner is already on the phone with them. He is heard referring to the group as “belligerent.”

Next, Johnston attempts to deploy a tool from his “common law” utility belt -- citizen’s arrest. 

“Guys, this is a citizen’s arrest. You are under arrest for assault, two counts. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law,” Johnston tells the owner. “I have to take this man into custody, I have to touch him.” 

Johnston then touches the man.

“He’s now in custody.”

Any attempts to move away or go back into the store are blocked physically by Johnston.  

“You’re not going anywhere. You’re under arrest, I said. Citizens arrest for assault times two. Citizens arrest,” he shouts. “You saw it, hit me twice. I had to defend myself. You are under arrest.”

At this point, a bystander intervenes. Masked, he walks up to the crowd.

“You can fuck off and leave him alone. You’re in his face, you’re not wearing a mask. Back off, sir,” he tells them.

Kevin uses his magic touch to put this man into “custody” as well. 

When the police arrive, Johnston is immediately placed in handcuffs, read his rights, and pulled towards an RCMP truck. Clearly exasperated, he insists they are arresting the wrong man. 

“He’s in custody, you have to take him into custody now.”

“No, we don’t,” an officer tells him. 

“I’m curious why. I’ve made a citizen’s arrest, I’ve done it live on Instagram.”

“Oh Instagram, is that the new courts? Get in the truck.”

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has contacted the RCMP for comment on the incident and will update accordingly. 

Despite quickly being taken into custody over a disturbance in a rural parking lot, Johnston is still awaiting trial for wilful promotion of hatred under Criminal Code Section 319(2). In 2017, Johnston posted a video offering a $1,000 reward for footage of Toronto Muslim students praying at school.

A five-month-long investigation resulted in charges, but in the almost four years since, he has yet to face trial. 

Johnston also owes $2.5 million for statements he made about Paramount Fine Foods owner Mohamad Fakih during a protest. At the time, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jane Ferguson called Johnston’s actions toward Fakih “hate speech at its worst.” This is “by far and away the largest cyber verdict that’s sitting on the record right now,” Vancouver lawyer Roger McConchie told The Globe and Mail at the time.

He has continued to defame Fakih, referring to him as a baby killer and child murderer.

Johnston has said on stream that he has yet to pay any of the total, and often challenges others to sue him, citing his plans to drag the process out and refusal to pay judgments levied against him.

It is not clear what charges Johnston is facing at this time. However, Ed Jamnisek said on a live stream that Johnston had been charged with simple assault. 

Follow Peter Smith on Twitter at @misterEpete.

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