A driver was arrested in Victoria for allegedly accelerating his car at someone taking part in a peace march for Palestine on Sunday (Dec. 3).
Victoria police said the man driving the vehicle was arrested for assault with a weapon and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. The man’s actions also drew condemnation from a national Muslim organization, which called them racist after his outburst included telling one of the march’s demonstrators to “go back to Jordan.”
Videos of the incident posted online show a grey Nissan sedan accelerate at a person walking on the sidewalk beside the protective bollards on the B.C. legislature’s grounds. The pedestrian had to run to narrowly evade the car as it the driver reportedly sped toward them.
In a video, the driver is seen getting out of his car and approaching another attendee of the demonstration who was watching the situation unfold.
“From the river to the sea eh, that’s what they said since ‘48,” the driver is heard saying in the face of the onlooker, who responded with “and.”
“So when are you going to get the f***in reality and go back to Jordan,” the driver continued.
A uniformed protective services staff member then steps into the frame. The demonstrator then tells the protective services officer that the driver tried to attack them and the driver responds by yelling “this guy is a terrorist organization supporter.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims also posted the video on Monday (Dec. 4) and said it was deeply concerned by the incident.
“This is the kind of apparent violence we have seen increase across this country. It is reprehensible, and our leaders must step up to stem this tide of hate,” the organization said in a social media post.
Saying the driver accosted the march attendee with a “racist tirade,” the National Council added that Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism have no place in Canada.
A man was arrested at the B.C. legislature on Dec. 3 after he accelerated his car at a Palestine march demonstrator, who was walking on the sidewalk at the time and narrowly evaded the vehicle as it sped toward them. #yyj pic.twitter.com/VFdFz7kZHQ— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) December 4, 2023
Chanting demonstrators walked through downtown Victoria streets holding signs on Sunday afternoon during the event called Unite for Peace: March for Palestine. The event called for a ceasefire in the almost two-month-old Israel-Hamas war, along with an “end to the siege on Gaza” and to “stop arming Israel.”
Donald Smith posted a video of the incident on social media after he came across the march while out for a walk. The photographer regularly documents rallies and protests of all kinds.
“As a person who has covered these events, I’ve never never seen a car do that in my life, he said in an interview.
Smith hopes things calm down as he knows there’s a lot of division in the country, citing clashes he’s seen in videos online between supporters of Palestinians and Israelis in recent months.
“I don’t care if you’re an Israeli, I don’t care if you’re pro-Palestinian, I don’t care if you’re BLM, I don’t care who you are, in this country of Canada we all have the right to democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of whatever, but you just don’t go to a rally and use your car and basically assault people,” he said.
“This hatred of people, going out there and doing this stuff, it needs to stop. It doesn’t matter who you are.”
Smith said the incident happened around 2:30 p.m., which also aligns with the timeline put out by VicPD.
Police said no further arrests were made and the demonstration was able to continue without any other incidents. The arrested man was released with a future court date.
“VicPD supports everyone’s right to safe, peaceful and lawful demonstration, and asks that all citizens respect this right,” the force said on Monday. “Dangerous or unlawful activity will continue to be met with de-escalation and enforcement.”
The original version of this story said the driver was arrested and police recommended charges against him. VicPD said it made an error in its initial news release as charges have not yet been recommended, and clarified that the man was arrested for assault with a weapon and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.