Police conduct during Indigenous-led anti-pipeline protest will be reviewed by committee, say police
VANCOUVER -- The actions of police officers toward a group of protesters during a demonstration on Friday in Vancouver will be reviewed by a professional standards committee, says a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department.
A video clip, which has circulated widely on social media, shows members of the Vancouver Police Department aggressively handling and pushing protesters to the ground. In one instance a police officer pulls a person by their hair.
The clip appears to have been taken on Friday, Feb. 19, by anti-pipeline protesters who occupied the lobby of an office building in Vancouver to protest the expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline. Protesters said they chose the building because it holds the offices of AIG Insurance, which is providing insurance to the pipeline project.
According to social media posts, as well as banners at the protest, Indigenous youth land defenders led the occupation and protest.
The video, taken from outside, shows officers removing people from inside the building. In one instance, a police officer inside the building appears to push a person holding a drum out the door. Then, an officer on the outside grabs that person by their pony-tail from behind and quickly pulls them away from the doorway by their hair.
In another instance, police forcefully push a protester to the ground. The person who was pushed to the ground appears to be holding an object made from woven cedar.
CTV News Vancouver has sent an interview request to the people behind the Instagram account credited for the video, but has not heard back.
A spokesperson and constable for the Vancouver police says the department will look into the actions of the officers.
“We have shared this video with the VPD’s Professional Standards Section and they will discuss next steps,” reads an email from spokesperson Cst. Tania Visintin.
“The appropriate review of the officer’s actions will occur, however it’s important to remember that the 30-second clip fails to show what happened leading up to that interaction and what happened after. The clip does not provide complete context,” it reads.
Visintin did not provide a timeline for the review nor comment further other than to specify that police are subject to multiple layers of oversight, including the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
Police conduct and brutality across North America, especially with regards to the treatment of Black, Indigenous and people of colour, have come under the microscope over the past year as part of a ripple effect of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Previous data from 2019 obtained by CTV News Vancouver has found that Indigenous people were disproportionately subjected to police street checks in Vancouver.
On Friday, Visintin said four people were arrested at the demonstration and that some of the protesters were “aggressive and physically fought with police.”
Other video footage taken on Friday shows protesters singing and drumming outside of the building, as a line of police officers stood between them and the building.
CTV News Vancouver will update this story if it hears back from those behind the video.