VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Allegations of police brutality prompted a demonstration that had blocked off the area of Main and Hastings streets overnight.
A small group of activists started occupying the intersection in the Downtown Eastside Sunday and had plans to stay “indefinitely.”
In a release, organizers explain the demonstration was a response to police brutality, which they allege happened Sunday in the same area. They say the incident started around 5 p.m, when an elderly man was playfighting with two Indigenous men.
Apparently officers intervened, jumped on the two men, tasered and kicked them before arresting them, the release says.
“This was the most brutal behaviour I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m 76 years old,” says George Rubin, adding his arm was broken during the incident.
Activists at Main & Hastings overnight say in a release they are there due to police brutality. They claim on August 2 “An elderly man was play fighting with two Indigenous men and police abruptly intervened”. @CityNewsVAN @NEWS1130: Fiona York https://t.co/Ca1GbZQ1M7 pic.twitter.com/RbPDzC484K
— Ashley Grace Burr (@AshleyBurr_) August 3, 2020
However, the Vancouver Police Department says officers responded to a call of two men fighting with knives.
“When officers were taking those males into custody, an aggressive crowd started to form. Some of the members of this crowd began threatening to kill the officers, others threw bottles and other objects at the officers,” says Const. Tania Visintin, adding two officers were hurt during the encounter.
She notes an elderly man was in the crowd, but to the VPD’s understanding, he did not break his arm.
Seven people were arrested, Visintin says, and charges including uttering threats, causing a disturbance, and assaulting a police officer have been recommended.
About 25 people stayed in the area protesting overnight, and the VPD says officers were monitoring “ensuring the safety of those involved.”
Earlier in the day, vehicles weren’t able to get through the intersection, and some bus routes were temporarily modified. Police were on scene detouring traffic before the area was cleared. around 9 a.m.