Victoria Police Sexually Assault Teens and Ignore Assault on Woman: “Freedom”

Tasha Diamant
5 min readFeb 9, 2022

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A recent Save Old Growth action in Victoria. Photo credit @save.old.growth on Instagram

“Freedom Convoy” sieges continue to unfold across Canada. Racist and misogynist signage, threats against healthcare workers and the prime minister, and hours- or days-long traffic blockages and noise violations have not stopped police from giving protesters thumbs up and tweeting support. Violence is also common and not reported or dealt with by police.

In Victoria, on the second weekend of the barely disguised Trumpian alt-right jamboree, police witnessed a 6’+ man assault and seriously injure a slight 5’2” woman, who is a friend of mine. Stella (a pseudonym), 32, jumped between the man and another woman in her 60s. (Here is a link to a video of the incident https://twitter.com/photowarrior/status/1490375295739727874.) The man was going to hit the older woman because she had taken down his sign. Police did not arrest the man. (More below.)

@roninswanson, an independent journalist in Vancouver who I know, reported several violent incidents taking place in Vancouver on that same Saturday.

In the meantime, also in Victoria, two young people from another group blocking traffic to make an actual point about actual danger to humanity were treated horrifically by sadistic Victoria police.

Save Old Growth is a group of citizens of all ages and all walks of life. They are committed to non-violence and stand on highways to persuade the BC government to keep their promises to protect the very last of the ancient forests left in the province. The only signs they hold say “Save Old Growth.”

When they stage a protest they are arrested within minutes.

Most disturbingly, two of those protesters, Sage, 14, and Bunni, 16 (not their real names), were strip-searched/sexually assaulted during their arrests.

Sage, 14, who uses they/them pronouns, was standing with other Save Old Growth protesters blocking traffic on Friday, January 28, in Victoria, BC. Within minutes the protesters were moved by Victoria Police and three people out of about 20 were arrested, one being Sage. Sage asked for a female officer but a male officer sexually assaulted them and partially strip-searched them. He lifted Sage’s shirt and bra in the parking lot, felt their breasts, and manhandled their privates through their pants.

On Monday, January 31, at another Save Old Growth traffic blockade in greater Victoria, Saanich Police again broke up the protest within minutes. Just two days earlier, the first weekend of the “Freedom Convoy” in downtown Victoria had gone on for hours with no police intervention.

Once again, 14-year-old Sage was arrested. Sage was fully strip-searched by a female officer in a cell at the police station, but the male officer who arrested her watched the whole time. Only Sage was strip-searched, out of about 40 mostly adult protesters. During their arrest, Sage’s wrists turned purple from handcuffs that were too tight (a week later their wrists were still bruised). Sage was also left alone in a cell where they banged their head against the wall. No adult intervened, although there was a camera in the cell and an officer close by.

Bunni, 16, who is 5’2”, uses a cane and also prefers they/them pronouns. They were with Sage at the protest on January 31. Bunni was tackled to the ground by a large male police officer during their arrest. Officers also confiscated their cane. A week earlier on Monday, January 24, Bunni was arrested at another Save Old Growth protest in Victoria. Police strip-searched Bunni during this arrest.

Sage says: “I’m involved with the Save Old Growth protests because the planet is dying. When I was younger I never really understood but now I’m old enough to stand up to save the last of the old growth forests.”

Bunni says: “I’ve dealt with C-PTSD and depression all my life, and the only time I really feel content or happy is when I’m with everyone fighting for the planet or for the causes I believe in.”

Back to Stella’s story.

On Saturday, February 5, Victoria Police tweeted: “The gathering at the @BCLegislature has wrapped up. While some #yyjtraffic disruptions, no major incidents reported to us at this time, no arrests made related to the event. #yyj”

Funny (not) that they made no mention of witnessing but doing nothing about the violent assault of my friend, Stella, by a man twice her size.

At the legislature, Stella, protecting an older woman, was thrown down to the ground by a (white) man. He was angry that the older woman had removed his misleading sign from the BC Museum’s signboard. Stella’s head smacked the sidewalk and she is now recovering from a concussion.

Half a dozen cops were right there. Not only did they do nothing after this happened in front of their eyes, but one police officer came up to her and said in all seriousness, as if in solidarity: “I hope you understand why we can’t arrest him.”

On Friday, February 4, Mike Farnworth, the BC Minister for Public Safety and Solicitor General said regarding weekend two of the “convoy”: “We are aware of the chance of disruption to residents and businesses in the area, and planning and communication by law enforcement is underway.”

This is the same Mike Farnworth who is in charge of the RCMP in BC. Tens of millions of tax dollars have been spent on 4x4 trucks by the dozens, helicopter assaults and reconnaissance, and thousands of people-hours of armed officers, including gang enforcement units and the specialized CIRG industry henchmen. They have been deployed to arrest (and/or abduct and release) at least 1500 peaceful forest protectors at the Fairy Creek blockades and to use similar tactics on non-violent people protecting Wet’suwet’en lands.

(Many egregiously violent assaults by RCMP against unarmed, non-violent land defenders have been documented and several journalists have been illegally arrested, yet there has been zero acknowledgment from anyone in the BC or Canadian governments and zero repercussions against offending officers.)

But poor Victoria Police, with their $50 million annual budget, and no help from Minister Mike, “couldn’t arrest” the perpetrator of a violent assault happening under their noses.

Stella says: “I knew I was hurt but I stayed there for an hour before going to emergency because I didn’t want them to think that they won.”

I am grateful for these three brave people and honored to tell this small part of their courageous life stories. I hope they inspire you to go to a counter protest or a Save Old Growth protest.

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