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Man behind controversial J.K. Rowling billboard arrested at Vancouver protest – but not for protesting

He says he was downtown 'to have conversations' with people and protesters
The suspect recorded his interactions with Vancouver police and protestors prior to his arrest. (Screengrab/Twitter)

A Metro Vancouver man who – in his own words – was “going downtown to walk around and have conversations,” was swept up in a crowd of protestors and police and arrested Saturday.

Chris Elston, whom Vancouver police say was arrested for “causing a disturbance,” is the same person responsible for a recent “I love J.K. Rowling” billboard, confirmed Vancouver Police Department Cst. Tania Visintin.

Elston recorded much of his interactions with the police on video.

Those videos also capture him being confronted and surrounded by protestors.

“We’ve got a whole bunch of violent people here today, trying to stop me from moving,” he said after a female protester shrouded his camera with her hand.

Another appears to have taken his cell phone from him for a time.

Elston told Vancouver Is Awesome what initially drew him to the demonstration – the day people gathered in solidarity with Mi’kmaq fishermen – was the crowds.

“I go to crowds because I like to have conversations,” he said in a message on Twitter.

“I didn’t even have an opportunity to know what was going on at the art gallery,” he added.

By 4 p.m. he was arrested and taken into police custody.

Visintin said it was because he “was antagonizing other protestors and even attempted to punch someone.”

“The suspect was warned several times by police to stop, but he did not listen,” Visintin added.

When Vancouver police officers formed a quasi-barricade around the suspect, Elston fired back: “I’m allowed to be here, I’m allowed to walk freely.”

“I’m telling you don’t go through that crowd. I’m asking you not to go because you’re instigating,” replied one officer, in a conversation the suspect caught on camera.

Police confirmed charges against the man have not yet been approved by Crown counsel.

Elston told Vancouver Is Awesome he plans to sue the Vancouver Police Department.