Police misconduct at legislature protest alleged in complaints

Two people have lodged complaints about police misconduct during a demonstration outside the B.C. legislature last week.

The complaints relate to force used by police, said Andrea Spindler, deputy police complaint commissioner. The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, which provides civilian oversight of municipal police forces, said it cannot provide specifics on the complaints due to concerns around confidentiality.

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The office is reviewing the complaints to determine whether there is a credible allegation of misconduct.

Spindler said the watchdog received the complaints late last week. They were forwarded to the office from the Victoria Police Department.

Hundreds of people gathered at the legislature building on Feb. 11, blocking all entrances to the building ahead of the arrival of the lieutenant-governor for the throne speech and the opening of the spring session.

Those demonstrating were calling for the removal of RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. and demanding that the province revoke the work permit for Coastal GasLink, which is building a natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory.

For the most part, protesters moved aside to allow politicians and staff to enter, while chanting “stand with us” and “shame.” However, some people were denied entry.

A particularly heated confrontation took place when demonstrators blocking one entrance linked arms to prevent someone from entering. Police officers forcibly separated protesters to create a passage through the crowd into the building.

Organizers asked demonstrators to remain peaceful and allow politicians to pass.

“A soft blockade in this scenario means we are not actually resisting arrest. So upon an officer saying you will be arrested, you stand down,” one organizer told the crowd. “Assert yourself. Don’t let the police hurt you. Don’t let the police push you aside. Don’t antagonize the police at all. But if it comes to that, stand down.”

A provincial official said some government staffers received minor injuries during the protests.

Victoria police said four people reported allegations of assault during the demonstration.


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