Pepper-spray attack on refugees treated as 'hate-motivated crime': Vancouver police

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning an attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver, after police say a man pepper-sprayed a group at a welcoming event.

See Full Article

Officers say the incident happened outside of the Muslim Association of Canada Centre, just after 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

The centre was holding a "Welcome Night" for refugees that evening, and a crowd of people were gathered outside when an unknown man approached on a bicycle.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said the man then pepper-sprayed the group, causing harm to approximately 15 men, women and children.

Witnesses at the scene described the sudden attack.

"I saw people running out of the centre and crying and coughing," a witness named Fatima told CTV Vancouver. "I (could) smell the black pepper. And it did hurt, of course."

Paramedics arrived on scene to treat those hit by the spray. They said nobody was seriously injured.

Palmer told a news conference Saturday that police are now investigating the incident as a “hate-motivated crime.”

He also said that investigators are looking to obtain video surveillance from surrounding businesses in efforts to identify a suspect.

No images of a suspect have been released yet.

On Saturday, Trudeau responded to the incident on Twitter.

"I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver," the prime minister wrote. "This isn't who we are – and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered."

"I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver," the prime minister wrote. "This isn't who we are – and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered."

I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver. This isn't who we are - and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 9, 2016

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum expressed similar sentiments at a Saturday afternoon media availability, saying he was “shocked and appalled” by the attack, which he deemed “an isolated incident.”

“It does not reflect the values of our country and it is my hope that the Vancouver police will soon be able to arrest the perpetrator,” McCallum told reporters.

The minister reiterated that the majority of Canadians support the refugee resettlement efforts and are proud of Canada’s multiculturalism. He pointed to the story of a mosque in Peterborough, Ont. that was burned down last November and how the community “rose up” to help fund the repairs.

“As illustrated by the response of the community in Peterborough, the great majority of Canadians are strongly in favour of a multicultural society in which all communities and religions are respected.”

McCallum added that he is not concerned about the incident tarnishing Canada’s reputation on the global stage.

“The picture of Justin Trudeau welcoming the first plane [of refugees in Toronto] has gone around the world and partly as a result of that, we now have a reputation as a country that welcomes refugees with open arms,” he said.

In a post on Twitter, B.C. Premier Christy Clark called the incident "intolerable, regardless of motivation.”

Last night's attack on refugees is intolerable, regardless of motivation. Please join me in condemning it, and welcoming new Canadians.

— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) January 9, 2016

The attack has been labelled an act Islamophobia by Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.

“What could this be, beside hatred or racism?” Majzoub said on CTV’s News Channel Saturday.

Unfortunately, attacks on Canadian Muslims are “not something new to the Canadian Muslim community,” Majzoub said, pointing to reports of hijab-wearing women being attacked in public places.

Majzoub repeated the prime minister’s message that the Vancouver attack “does not in any way reflect who we are as Canadians.”

Police are now looking for the man on the bicycle. He is described as having a slim build and was seen wearing a white or grey hooded sweatshirt at the time of the event.

Vancouver police have also called in several specialized officers to help investigate the attack, including a hate crime detective, a Muslim liaison officer and the force’s diversity unit.

With files from CTV Vancouver



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Five years after Superstorm Sandy flooding, NYC subway station reopens

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A New York City subway station has reopened nearly five years after Superstorm Sandy flooded it with 15 million gallons of water. The South Ferry station on the No. 1 line reopened Tuesday after more than $340 million worth of repairs. Source
  • 80-year-old woman attacked by rabid bobcat in garden

    World News Toronto Sun
    SUNAPEE, N.H. — An 80-year-old New Hampshire woman fought off a rabid bobcat with the help of her two dogs and her gardening sickle. Elsie Dabrowski says she was gardening Sunday at her Sunapee home when the animal attacked , biting her face, arm and back. Source
  • Famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey files for bankruptcy once again

    World News Toronto Sun
    PORTLAND, Maine — Famed defence attorney F. Lee Bailey has filed for bankruptcy again to tie up loose ends following his bankruptcy filing last year. The attorney, whose high-profile clients have included O.J. Simpson, discharged more than $4 million in debt to the Internal Revenue Service in the previous case. Source
  • New York City subway train derails, dozens injured

    World News CBC News
    A subway train derailed near a station in Harlem on Tuesday, frightening passengers and resulting in minor injuries as hundreds of people were evacuated from trains along the subway line. "We started seeing sparks through the windows. Source
  • Royal Bank to reimburse $22M in investment fees it shouldn't have charged some clients

    Canada News CBC News
    The Ontario Securities Commission says the settlement comes after a compliance review in 2015 found the bank had overcharged some of its customers 'excess fees,' for their investments. (Mark Blinch/Reuters) The Royal Bank of Canada will pay almost $22 million in compensation to clients who were charged excess fees on some mutual funds and investments products. Source
  • Lockdown lifted at Alabama military post

    World News Toronto Sun
    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Authorities locked down an Alabama military post on Tuesday amid reports of possible active shooter, and workers were advised to “run hide fight.” About two hours later, the all-clear was given and officials said there were no confirmed injuries or arrests. Source
  • 'I said I had some cookies for him': Death row inmates detail how they killed other prisoners to get there [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    COLUMBIA, S.C. — One by one, Denver Simmons recalled, he and his partner lured inmates into his cell. William Scruggs was promised cookies in exchange for doing some laundry; Jimmy Ham thought he was coming to snort some crushed pills. Source
  • Fla. man, accused of threatening to kill politician because he was 'fed up with the Republican Party,' says he was off his meds: Cops

    World News Toronto Sun
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS First posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 01:23 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 01:52 PM EDT Source
  • Shots fired at home linked to murdered mobster, police say

    Canada News CTV News
    HAMILTON -- Police say they believe a Hamilton home associated with an Ontario mobster family was "specifically targeted" in a shooting incident early Tuesday. Hamilton police Const. Steve Welton says numerous gunshots were reported in a residential neighbourhood around 2:30 a.m. Source
  • Weedon, tiny Quebec town with apropos name, hopes to become cannabis capital

    Canada News CBC News
    It's not all in a name for Weedon, a small Quebec town planning to welcome a 1.5 million-square-foot cannabis production facility. Mayor Richard Tanguay said "it's no secret" that the town's moniker had a lot to do with how two Canadian companies found the municipality in Quebec's Eastern Townships, adding that "it all worked out because we had the other elements, too. Source