The deputy chief of the Vancouver Police Department says he is “appalled” by the “vile and abusive comments” officers have received on Twitter after a Friday rally in the city turned violent.
Deputy Chief Howard Chow took to the platform to respond to online criticism of the department’s policing tactics and for not making arrests at the International Transgender Day of Visibility rally.
Police issued a news release Saturday saying they had begun investigating “violent confrontations” that occurred when people attending the demonstration confronted a group of counter-protesters inside Vancouver’s Grandview Park.
The department has alleged at least two people were assaulted but did not provide further details.
Chow says policing demonstrations and protests are challenging, and protecting the right to free speech is “one of the most important” aspects of the job.
Investigators say they have reached out to a victim who posted a video of an assault online, and have invited that person to meet with detectives to provide a statement.
Chow says though officers did not make arrests at the time, that does not mean they won’t do so in the future.
“We’re used to having cameras on us, (and) some even try to set it up to elicit a particular response. It’s all fair game. Never easy to give an immediate answer to a chaotic scene where you simply don’t have all the facts yet. That’s why we investigate and sometimes it takes time,” he said on Twitter.
Police have also shared parts of video and images posted online by a victim, and are appealing to those who saw the altercations to reach out.
They said in the news release that there may be more witnesses who have not spoken to police, as well as bystander videos that may show different perspectives of the incident.
“Our full investigation into the matter will determine the outcome of criminal charges,” Chow Tweeted. “This will involve different camera angles, witness accounts, video reviews, etc. Sometimes, jumping in and arresting one or two at the moment will only incite or inflame the situation.”