A Calgary filmmaker who says that he was assaulted by Donald Trump supporters following the candidate's win Wednesday morning is now being accused of having made the story up by large parts of social media.
Chris Ball, 25, made headlines Thursday morning after outlets, such as Metro and Pink News, reported on images circulating social media that featured Ball covered in blood after an alleged attack by Trump supports in Santa Monica, California.
According to Metro, Ball was at a bar in the city watching the election results roll in. As it became clear that Trump was to become president-elect, Ball alleges that supporters at the bar began to harass him.
"People started launching homophobic slurs at me from afar," he told Metro. "I mean, I kind of got into it, but I didn't want to provoke them."
Ball told Metro that some men in the bar allegedly said to him, "We got a new president, you fucking faggots." Upon leaving the bar, he was allegedly attacked in an alleyway and had a bottle smashed over his head.
"When I came to, I remember waking up and wiping the blood from my eyes," Ball told Metro, saying that he allegedly fell back from the blow and smashed his head on the concrete. "I called some friends, they picked me up and I went right to the hospital."
However, a storm of Tweets and comments on a Facebook post that has gone viral with his story are accusing Ball of perpetrating a hoax, with many pointing out that the blood in the image "looks fake" and that it looks poorly applied.
"Notice the perfect white watch [in the first photo]. Not a drip of blood on it," one critic told VICE. "In [one] photograph it states [they] were at the ER. Yet he doesn't have a hospital band on his wrist. [T]hey wouldn't let you in a place like the ER without a wristband."
According to Lieut. Saul Rodriguez of the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), there was "absolutely no" report of any such incident happening in the city.
"We have no record of anything like that occurring," he told VICE Thursday morning. "We have not heard of it from any authorities [in the area]."
VICE's conversation with Ball paints a different picture, however, with Ball noting that original reports had a few things wrong, the first of which was that he was not the target of the original homophobic slurs.
"One thing I wanted to clear up was that, the people in the bar, they didn't start calling me a fag or anything like that," he said.
"They were saying it in general, and I called them out, and that's when they came at me. As I said, I joined in. I was pretty hammered, so I was just egging them on a bit, [and I] fired back some insults."
Ball notes that he can't remember the exact bar that he was at during the time of the attack because of how intoxicated he was, but says that it was within Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. Ball acknowledged that this has likely helped fuel suspicions about the legitimacy of his story, but said that it was not something he thought would be analyzed so quickly.
"Honestly, it's kind of crazy...I only had blood on my shirt and face because I was [knocked out on the ground] for a while, and when I woke up, I wiped the blood from my eyes and sat with my back against a wall. There wasn't a wristband in the one photo because I [appeared to be] seriously injured and they brought me right in, so they hadn't put it on yet."
Additionally, Ball says that, prior to VICE contacting him, no news organization followed up to get documentation of his hospital visit, where he notes that the police were informed by hospital staff of the attack.
"I didn't call the police, but the hospital did—they had to," he said. "By the time I sobered up, I didn't think there was much that could be done. Like, I didn't see the [attackers'] faces, I hardly remember where I was, and I just wanted to be done with it. The Twitter posts [made it seem] like a witch hunt, but it wasn't."
VICE was given a copy of the documentation by Ball that shows he was treated for a head injury and lacerations to his scalp on November 9, 2016. The document also shows that Ball received a CAT scan for a brain injury, but was cleared by the hospital when the results came up negative. VICE has been unable to reach the hospital for immediate confirmation of the document, but the story will be updated in accordance.
Ball also provided VICE of a photo, which appears to show staples in his scalp that he got during the hospital visit. Ball said he will be getting removed in just under a week.
"I plan to head back to Canada for that, this has all been a bit much and I need a break," he said.
In 2010, Ball—under the YouTube stage name and alias "Chris Bawl"—was reported on by CTV for attracting the attention of Calgary authorities with "daredevil" stunts he was posting online, which included him jumping off cliffs, surfing on cars, and hanging off of bridges.
VICE has found evidence of these events on Ball's Facebook, as well as a YouTube channel he has set up as a portfolio for his work. One of the videos, titled "Chris Ball 2.0 Trailer," is listed as a "parody trailer" for a meta-reality film on his local notoriety in the news.
Hoax-debunking website Snopes added a page about Ball's story Thursday night, with a compilation of criticisms and failures in accurate reporting as reason for it being "unproven."
Ball, whose work as a makeup artist and set designer for a number of TV shows and movies (a fact that has critics VICE spoke to convinced that he staged the event), says that he isn't "sure what else to tell" those who claim he made his story up.
Ball told VICE that he was surprised to see people come down so hard on his story on social media, but doesn't know how to handle the situation now that it's become international news.
"I've been very tempted to chime in, but I held back. I don't really know whether I should keep talking about this [and face possible harassment,] or just stay quiet...I'm a little numb to be honest. This all feels surreal."
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