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Woman charged in Tuesday’s Downtown Eastside ‘melee’

Click to play video: 'Chaos as City of Vancouver staff move in on East Hastings tent and structures' Chaos as City of Vancouver staff move in on East Hastings tent and structures
WATCH: Two weeks after an order came down from the Vancouver Fire Chief to remove tents and structures from East Hastings Street, city staff move in Tuesday. With many residents of the area having nowhere to go and a looming police presence, it was perhaps only a matter of time before tensions boiled over. Grace Ke reports – Aug 9, 2022

One woman has been charged and several other people are facing criminal investigation over what police have described as a “melee” on the Downtown Eastside on Tuesday.

The altercation happened at the same time as city crews were working just metres away to dismantle a tent city in the 100 block of East Hastings Street.

Read more: Chaos erupts on East Hastings Street as Vancouver staff start clearing tents

Police and the City of Vancouver say officers were called to the Carnegie Centre around 3 p.m. to reports of a man throwing computers and acting erratically inside.

A large group of activists and community members had already gathered nearby to observe the city’s decampment efforts.

Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver staff remove tents from East Hastings' City of Vancouver staff remove tents from East Hastings
City of Vancouver staff remove tents from East Hastings – Aug 9, 2022

Police allege that as they arrested the man causing a disturbance, seven officers were “surrounded and assaulted by part of the crowd.”

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“This incident is another example of our officers facing violence while trying to maintain some degree of public safety in an increasingly hostile neighbourhood,” VPD Sgt. Steve Addison said in a media release.

“They were surrounded by people who threw objects at them, bit them, punched them in the face, and tried to prevent them from making a lawful arrest.”

Read more: ‘Compassion needed’: Tensions flare on Hastings Street over tent city clearing

The VPD maintains officers were stationed nearby to support city workers if needed, but were not involved in the decampment. More officers were called in to “restore order” after the altercation, but withdrew afterward, police say.

The police response has drawn criticism from a number of Downtown Eastside advocates.

A new group called the Our Streets Block Stewardship Program formed to support residents and liaise with the city over the encampment and street cleaning described the altercation as “unprovoked police brutality.”

Police escalated the situation by “hog tying” the man at Carnegie Centre as onlookers became upset at his treatment, the group said in a statement.

“At this point a woman in the crowd of bystanders allegedly threw a light object in the direction of a VPD officer,” the group said. “Police quickly tackled an arrested her, and a confrontation between police and bystanders ensued.”

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Read more: City shifts to ‘providing information’ as Hastings Street decampment enters Day 2

The group claims police grabbed and shoved people who weren’t involved in the incident and deployed pepper spray.

Vancouver police say seven people were arrested in total during the incident, including three who were temporarily detained in jail.

Alene West, 44, has been charged with assault with a weapon after an officer was allegedly struck in the head with an object, police said.

Three other people are expected to face future charges, police said.

 

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