Date: Thursday, September 21, 2023
Victoria, BC – We remind everyone of the limits of lawful assembly after yesterday’s demonstrations at the BC Legislature.
On Wednesday, September 20, a demonstration and march was planned for the Legislature and immediate area. A counter-demonstration was also planned for the same area.
VicPD prepared for these demonstrations with a proactive update regarding traffic closures, including a reminder of everyone’s right to peaceful protest and clear messaging regarding the consequences of dangerous or unlawful activity.
VicPD officers and the Greater Victoria Public Safety Unit (GVPSU) were on-site to help ensure the safety of all participants and observers.
The demonstrations quickly became escalated, with tensions and conflict amongst some of the approximately 2,500 protesters and counter-protestors that had gathered on the Legislature lawn.
At approximately 12:30 p.m., counter-protesters pushed past police and rushed the stage, creating an unsafe environment, and a decision was made to cease further planned activities.
Given the continued escalating tensions, size and dynamics of the crowd, we determined that the environment was becoming unsafe for participants, VicPD officers and community partners. There was also concern that more participants would be arriving and that a proactive decision to ask people to leave the area was necessary to restore public peace and prevent further conflict. Two arrests were made.
At approximately 2 p.m., VicPD issued a Community Update asking demonstration participants to leave the area and others to avoid coming to the BC Legislature.
Demonstrators remained in the area, and all available additional officers were called in to assist in supporting safety at the demonstration.
Officers from VicPD and the Greater Victoria Public Safety Unit (GVPSU) remained at the BC Legislature until approximately 9 p.m. last night. There were no additional arrests.
We remind the community that our function at demonstrations is to remain neutral and to provide a safe environment for everyone. We must continually balance people’s right to peaceful protest with the need to maintain public safety. This is not always an easy task, and everyone has a role to play in public safety by ensuring they respect all persons’ rights to peaceful and lawful assembly.
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