VicPD officer seen giving thumbs up to convoy protesters was responding to ‘appreciative comments’: police chief


Victoria’s police chief says that a video of an on-duty officer giving a thumbs up from his vehicle to a crowd of people protesting vaccine mandates was not endorsing their views, but responding to appreciation for keeping public safety.

The controversial video shows the officer in a police cruiser raising his thumb during the Jan. 29 protest to crowds on the sidewalk, who respond with cheers.

It drew criticism from some who said it showed that the officer was tacitly endorsing anti-vaccination and white supremacist views, following reports of swastika flags being flown at the main protest in Ottawa over the weekend.

Police Chief Const. Del Manak released a statement on Twitter Monday in response to the controversial video, which surfaced on social media following Saturday’s protest at the B.C. Legislature in support of a trucker convoy in Ottawa.

“When I first saw a video of this today, I initially viewed it with concern since impartiality and neutrality are key to serving our community as police officers,” Manak wrote.

“I have since spoken to the officer, who told me that he was responding to appreciative comments from citizens about VicPD’s presence in ensuring public safety at the event.”

In his statement, Manak noted that officers attended 170 protests in 2021 to keep peace and while remaining impartial and neutral “are essential at these events, so is proactive engagement with protest participants and bystanders in the interest of public safety.”

Victoria Police Department’s vaccination policy does not require that all officers and staff members receive COVID-19 vaccines.

Those who are not fully vaccinated must undergo “regular testing,” but VicPD has maintained that the majority of staff are fully vaccinated. However, federally contracted employees, including RCMP, have been ordered to be immunized.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, trucks and crowds have snarled traffic for several days as reports surfaced of some protesters, who are denouncing federal and provincial vaccine mandates, defacing monuments and wielding signs with swastikas.

Police are also investigating what they describe as threatening behaviour toward officers, city workers and other individuals, as well as damage to a city vehicle, but as of Sunday there were no arrests related to incidents of physical violence.



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