A peace activist fighting Dick Cheney's entrance into Canada could face assault charges after a rowdy protest Monday, but organizers say that shouldn't detract from the message of the rally.

Roughly 250 protestors showed up outside the prestigious Vancouver Club, where Cheney was promoting his new book, "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir."

The protest turned violent when some activists began grabbing ankles and attacking people who were trying to get into the $500-a-plate dinner.

According to police, at one point, a man assaulted a staff member of the club.

"There were some people who were quite violent with our police officers – one gentleman broke through the police line and began choking a young staff member of the Vancouver Club," said Const. Lindsey Houghton.

But Gail Davidson, a local lawyer and co-founder of Lawyers Against the War, says the focus should not be on pushing and shoving during the protest, rather on the point of the protest.

"They were there to express their opposition to the fact that elected representatives, our members of Parliament, were failing and refusing to apply Canada's laws – some of the most important laws that we have – and those are laws obliging Canada to prevent and punish war crimes and crimes against humanity, wherever they occur," said Davidson.

Peace activists accuse Cheney of war crimes for authorizing and endorsing the use of water boarding and sleep deprivation against detainees in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other offshore prisons while serving in George W. Bush's administration.

The former vice-president has vigorously defended interrogation techniques used on detainees during the Bush years, claiming they saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

Earlier this week, Humans Rights Watch urged the federal government to charge Cheney with war crimes and accused him of playing a role in the torture of detainees.

Don Davies, the NDP immigration critic, also argued that Cheney should not have been allowed into Canada.

Davies said the water boarding and sleep deprivation techniques that Cheney authorized violated both Canadian and international law.

With files from the Canadian Press and a report from CTV British Columbia's Rob Brown