Vancouver police say an officer was injured after scuffles with protesters outside a restaurant in the city’s Chinatown where the prime minister was dining on Tuesday night.
Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Sgt. Steve Addison said in a statement that 100 officers were deployed around 10 p.m. PT “after protesters surrounded a restaurant.”
He said Justin Trudeau was inside the restaurant at the time and officers helped control the crowd so the prime minister could be escorted out.
Videos posted online show police creating space on a sidewalk and street as Trudeau walked out and got into a vehicle and was driven away. Protesters chant, “ceasefire now,” and hold Palestine flags.
Addison said police estimated 250 protesters were at the restaurant, which he did not name. He said the establishment was on Main Street, near Keefer Street, and that about 150 people were in front of the restaurant, while another 100 were behind it.
“It became a security concern for us,” he told CBC News, describing that barricades were being set up and people were locking arms. Police called the protest spontaneous, meaning VPD was not advised about it beforehand.
Other videos posted online appear to show Trudeau leaving a different restaurant on Tuesday after protesters entered the premises and called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
2 men arrested
In the Chinatown protest, Addison said one officer was injured and taken to hospital for treatment after being punched in the face and having her eyes gouged.
Police said they arrested a 27-year-old man from Coquitlam, B.C., in relation to the assault. Officers deployed a Taser as part of the arrest along with “other physical control tactics,” said Addison.
Officers also arrested a 34-year-old Vancouver man for obstructing police. He was later released from custody. Police were recommending charges against the 27-year-old to the B.C. Prosecution Service, according to Addison.
“When protests occur, our primary role is to maintain order, to facilitate a peaceful environment for people to express themselves, and to respond to unlawful behaviour if it occurs,” he said.
VPD says on average it attends around 800 protests in the city. On Tuesday, Addison said the city is on pace to exceed 1,000 for 2023.
The protesters on Main Street left following Trudeau’s departure, police said.
VPD also acknowledged posts that appeared online from around 9 p.m. that appear to show the prime minister dining at Vij’s, a well known Indian restaurant on Cambie Street, before protesters approach him and call for him to demand a ceasefire in the Middle East.
Addison said that incident preceded the protest in Chinatown and did not require a significant police response.
The videos appear to show Trudeau leaving the restaurant surrounded by his security detail while speaking to other diners and restaurant owner Vikram Vij, who is also a TV personality.
A statement from the prime minister’s officer confirmed Trudeau was approached by demonstrators in Vancouver, but did not provide further details.
“In regards to any specific interactions, our office does not comment on the prime minister’s security detail or process,” it said.