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Driver arrested after nearly hitting pro-Palestinian demonstrator in Victoria

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A driver was arrested in Victoria on Sunday after nearly hitting a protester with a car during a pro-Palestinian rally outside the B.C. legislature.

The incident, which was caught on video and posted to social media, happened shortly after 2 p.m. in the 500 block of Belleville Street.

The incident, which was caught on video and posted to social media, happened shortly after 2 p.m. in the 500 block of Belleville Street in Victoria. (Donald Smith)

The grey, four-door sedan was stopped on the road before accelerating toward a person carrying a Palestinian flag and wearing a high-visibility vest.

The protester ran away and narrowly avoided being hit as the car drove up onto the sidewalk, stopping short of a barrier outside the legislature grounds.

A verbal altercation ensued between the driver and other demonstrators before they were separated by police.

Donald Smith, who shot the video, says he was out for a walk when he noticed the rally and went over to check it out.

He started filming when he says he saw a man yelling out his car window at the demonstrators.

"And next thing you know he just drove up," Smith told CTV News. "He just basically hit the gas and literally almost hit somebody. If those barriers weren't there, that would have been a different ballgame."

Victoria police say the driver was arrested for assault with a weapon and dangerous driving. No other arrests were made and the demonstration continued peacefully.

The man was led away from the scene at the B.C. legislature on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. (Donald Smith)

"Charges have been recommended and the man has been released pending a future court date," the Victoria Police Department said in a news release Monday.

"VicPD supports everyone's right to safe, peaceful and lawful demonstration, and asks that all citizens respect this right."

Hundreds of demonstrators marched through downtown Victoria calling for an end to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims issued a statement Monday condemning the driver's actions.

"This is the kind of apparent violence we have seen increase across this country," the group posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. "It is reprehensible, and our leaders must step up to stem this tide of hate."

The group, which describes itself as Canada’s largest Muslim advocacy organization, says it is investigating the incident and is reaching out to those affected by it.

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