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100 officers deployed after Trudeau surrounded at Vancouver restaurant


One hundred police officers were deployed and two people were arrested after protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war surrounded a Vancouver restaurant Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was visiting Tuesday night.

The heavy police response was triggered by the actions of the protesters and a need to facilitate Trudeau's exit from the Chinatown eatery, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department said at a news conference Wednesday.

"We believe the protesters took some specific actions that caused concerns – things like moving barricades to block part of the lane which would have blocked vehicle access. The protesters also took steps such as linking arms to create a line or a barricade," Sgt. Steve Addison said.

The protest, although organized, was not one the police were aware of ahead of time, Addison said.

"We responded quickly deploying approximately 100 officers in various parts of the city immediately in order to restore and maintain order and to disperse the crowd during the process," he continued.

"Certainly, the fact that the Prime Minister was inside that restaurant, heightened the need for us to respond," he said later.

Video posted to social media shows protesters outside of the business chanting "Palestine will be free" and "Ceasefire now" while holding signs that say "Stop funding genocide" and "Save Gaza." It also shows Trudeau and his security detail leaving the restaurant while being met with cries of "Shame."

After Trudeau and his security team drove off, Addison says officers attempted to "disperse the crowd." A 27-year-old man was arrested for allegedly punching a female police officer and attempting to "gouge" her eyes. A Taser was used during that arrest, along with what Addison described as "other physical control tactics."

Charged in connection with the assault is Jakub Markiewicz. He’s facing charges of assaulting a peace officer, assault causing bodily harm and wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

Meanwhile, a second person could also be facing charges following the protest. Police say a 34-year-old was also arrested for obstruction. Addison declined to name that person or elaborate on what they did to obstruct police.  

The department is aware of additional video posted to social media that shows Trudeau being confronted by protesters inside of a different restaurant earlier on Tuesday evening, but Addison said he was unable to speak to how many officers – if any – were sent in resPonse.

Protests in the city, as in other cities across Canada, have been ongoing since Oct. 7 and the Vancouver Police Department does not expect the activity to stop while the war is ongoing.

"We will continue to deploy officers as necessary to help facilitate peaceful protests, to maintain order, and to respond to unlawful behavior. We encourage people if they are choosing to gather to do so lawfully and to do so respectfully," Addison said.

"We have a long history of protests in the city of Vancouver. We support people's right to peacefully assemble to express themselves, but we also have responsibility to balance that right with maintaining order and upholding the law," he later added.

Israel's latest war against Hamas - which Canada has listed as a terrorist entity since 2002 - began after Hamas militants murdered 1,200 people in Israel, including hundreds of civilians in agricultural collective communities known as kibbutzim, and took 240 others hostage.

Israel's retaliation has included airstrikes and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, as well as cutting off access to supplies in the territory, which had already been under a years-long blockade by both Israel and Egypt. Palestinians trapped in Gaza are struggling to survive without electricity or running water and are rationing food. The health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory says the war has now killed more than 11,200 Palestinians, with two-thirds of them being women and children.

Officials in B.C. and beyond have reported a concerning increase in hate-motivated incidents amid the escalating war. Addison was unable to provide details about exactly how many incidents have been reported to police in Vancouver, but said there has been an uptick.

"There is a heightened sense of fear that many people in our community have as a result of the events that have happened overseas and many of the events that are reverberating here," he said.

"We are investigating a number of incidents that relate to some protest activity that occurred in recent weeks. We are investigating a number of incidents that relate to anti-Semitic gestures, actions, speech and graffiti."

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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