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

  • CBC News takes home 44 awards at 2017 RTDNA

    Canada News CBC News
    ?CBC News journalists scooped up 44 awards on Saturday at the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) awards, honouring national and regional work in TV, web and radio. "All these awards recognize our excellence on all platforms," said CBC News editor in chief Jennifer McGuire, noting the CBC took home the lion's share of the 75 awards. Source
  • Family, friends hail the 2 men who died trying to stop attack

    World News CTV News
    PORTLAND, Ore. -- Helpful co-workers. Reliable friends. Well-liked by many who encountered them. Those were the descriptions family, friends and colleagues gave of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, the two men who were stabbed to death Friday when they tried to intervene when a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train. Source
  • 'Cowboys and Indians'-themed party prompts anger at Alberta high school

    Canada News CTV News
    Students at an Alberta high school are being accused of racism and cultural insensitivity after a “Cowboys and Indians”-themed graduation party was held off campus. Images of students from Chinook High School in Lethbridge, Alta. Source
  • Bangladesh reinstalls Lady Justice statue that irked Islamists

    World News CTV News
    DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A sculptor says authorities in Bangladesh have reinstalled a Lady Justice statue near the country's Supreme Court, two days after its removal following complaints by Islamist hard-liners. Sculptor Mrinal Haque said Sunday workers put the statue back in place a few hundred metres from its original location. Source
  • Andrew Scheer sells conservatism with a smile

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    <p>That big grin. It's the first thing everyone notices about newly elected Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.</p> <p>It'll be what the regular voter first sees when Scheer goes to bat one on one against Justin Trudeau in the polls. Source
  • Scheer new Conservative Party leader

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — The final votes will be cast today for a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Some 259,000 people are eligible to vote, deciding between 13 candidates running the gamut from former cabinet ministers to one who has never held public office. Source
  • CTV's W5, local stations win RTDNA awards

    Canada News CTV News
    CTV’s investigative program W5 has won three awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association. W5 won the Dave Rogers Award for Best Long Feature for Network Television for “In Their Footsteps.” The episode features Sandie Rinaldo as she follows a group of Canadian high school students, chaperones, and Holocaust survivors on their emotional tour of Nazi concentration camps in Poland. Source
  • CTV News wins 'best newscast' at RTDNA awards

    Canada News CTV News
    CTV News has been named Best Television Newscast by the Radio Television Digital News Association and CTV’s investigative program W5 has picked up three RTDNA awards. CTV National News, anchored by Lisa LaFlamme, won the Bert Cannings Award for Best Television Newscast at the annual RTDNA awards gala, held Saturday in Toronto. Source
  • Hot air balloon crashes in Alberta just after man proposes marriage

    Canada News CTV News
    A man’s wedding proposal on a hot air balloon didn’t go exactly as planned but his girlfriend still said yes -- and both are excited to have an “awesome” story to tell. Christine Peters says she had wanted to go for a ride in a hot air balloon ever since she was a little girl. Source
  • Andrew Scheer: a profile

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA - When Andrew Scheer first started telling people he was considering a run for the leadership of the federal Conservatives, he’d often get a raised eyebrow in response. Scheer served four years as Speaker of the House of Commons, following several years of serving as deputy Speaker. Source