Police to Treat Vancouver Pepper-Spray Attack as ‘Hate-motivated Crime’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and many Canadians have condemned an allegedly hate-driven attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver as a man pepper-sprayed a group at a welcoming event. According to the police, the incident took place outside the Muslim Association of Canada Centre at around 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

A “Welcome Night” was arranged for the refugees that evening so the attendees were gathered outside when the unknown attacker approached on a bicycle. In his remarks, Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer explained that the suspect pepper-sprayed the group and caused harm to approximately 15 men, women and children. One of the victims at the scene, Fatima, explained that “I saw people running out of the centre and crying and coughing,” adding that “I (could) smell the black pepper. And it did hurt, of course.” Soon after the incident, paramedics arrived at the scene and treated the victims hit by the spray but nobody was seriously injured.

In a news conference held on Saturday, Palmer alleged that police are now investigating the incident as a “hate-motivated crime.” He elucidated that investigators are trying to gather evidence through video surveillance from surrounding businesses in efforts to identify a suspect. However, no images of a suspect have been released yet. In a tweet posted by PM Trudeau on Saturday, he mentioned that “I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver,” adding that “this isn’t who we are – and doesn’t reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered.”

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