A Victoria councillor is pulling a phrase usually touted by U.S. President Donald Trump following a heated day of protests at the BC Legislature on Tuesday.
Coun. Ben Isitt called police investigations into reports of violence “fake news” in a Twitter post, after he and Couns. Sharmarke Dubow and Jeremy Loveday attended the protests.
Hundreds of people were gathered in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, and had been camped on the steps since Thursday. On Tuesday, MLAs and reporters attempted to access the Legislature to attend the Throne Speech.
Videos of the morning show demonstrators shouting obscene words and “shame” to people trying to enter the building, forcing one reporter to climb over a wall in order to attend work, while MLAs were escorted in by police.
— kendra crighton (@kendracrighton) February 11, 2020
There have also been reports of people being spit on, being shoved and even receiving a bloody nose from a swinging elbow, though Black Press Media could not confirm any of these allegations.
The Victoria Police Department, however, put out a call for victims and witnesses to come forward following reports of staff and other people being assaulted during the protests.
— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) February 12, 2020
In response, Isitt called the the allegations “hogwash designed to discredit Indigenous youth and their supporters.”
He added that “VicPD’s mandate is to ensure public safety, not spread #fakenews.”
In response, VicPD Chief Const. Del Manak tweeted back.
“Your comments [sic] is off base an disrespectful. We are asking victims (and witnesses) to step forward if they were assaulted during the protest. Our Mandate is public safety. Please let us do our job.”
Your comments is off base and disrespectful. We are asking victims (and witnesses) to step forward if they were assaulted during the protest. Our mandate is public safety. Please let us do our job. I am proud of the exceptional work of @vicpdcanada officers. #proudchief
— Del Manak (@ChiefManak) February 12, 2020
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said councillors may act on their own accord.
“Councillors are free to participate in protests and to represent their views in whatever way they see fit,” she said.
A video posted on Twitter shows a man being pushed out of the way after he refused to let someone enter the Legislature. The person who posted the video misidentifies the person pushing as a police officer; the man is actually a provincial security guard working for the Legislature. Police were identified with green vests.
Here one can see that it is the police that pushed a protestor into the public servant. Then they tried to pretend we were pushing people. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras so we don't have to rely on lackluster mainstream media reporting. pic.twitter.com/YOCK5ZH5TS
— Neechi (@SuperNeechi) February 12, 2020
Organizers were later heard reminding demonstrators that this was supposed to be a “soft blockade”, meaning they were supposed to let people through and to not touch police or politicians, as well as to stand down if they received threats of arrest.