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Arrests made in protests at People's Party event, including son of Soufi's owners
Published Wednesday, October 23, 2019 11:15AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 23, 2019 6:03PM EDT
Hamilton police have arrested and charged four people, including the son of the owners of a popular Syrian restaurant in Toronto, in relation to protests at a People’s Party of Canada event last month.
Alaa Al Soufi, 27, whose parents run Soufi's, a well-known Queen West restaurant, has been charged alongside 33-year-old Kevin Metcalf, 30-year-old Maximiliano Herrera and 23-year-old Victoria Wojciechowska for incidents at the speaking event that took place at Mohawk College.
The owners, Husam and Shahnaz Al-Soufi, who confirmed their son was at the protest, almost had to close down their restaurant earlier this month after receiving numerous hate messages and death threats because of their son’s alleged involvement.
Police said attendees at the speaking event on Sept. 29 were met by a large group of more than 100 protesters.
Four people were arrested and removed from the scene, and were later released unconditionally, according to officers.
There were no reported injuries, police said.
After speaking to witnesses and reviewing hours of video footage, several criminal offences and suspects were identified, police said.
Police said they arrested one male suspect on Oct. 22. The next day, two other male suspects turned themselves in.
A fourth female suspect was arrested on Wednesday morning, according to police.
Al Soufi has been charged with two counts of intimidation with intent and one count of causing disturbance.
Metcalf has been charged with obstruct to police, Herrera has been charged with intimidation and assault and Wojciechowska has been charged with theft under $5000 and disguise with intent.
Videos of the incidents, which have circulated online, show several protesters harassing an elderly woman, who has been identified as Dorothy Marston, outside Mohawk College.
CTV News Toronto spoke to her son David Turkoski, who provided a statement on behalf of the family Wednesday.
“She’s happy charges were laid for the good of democracy and free speech. I feel bad for his [Al Soufi's] parents who are wonderful people,” he wrote.
“I’m pleased that the Hamilton police took it seriously … this contempt for free speech in their bid to silence opposition cannot go unpunished.”
Speaking on Oct. 11, Al Soufi’s father said that he thought his son made a “mistake.”
He said he was in contact with Turkoski and wished to meet with him and his mother, and possibly have their family eat at his restaurant.
The son posted on Twitter that they met on Oct. 12.
Investigators said they are still attempting to identify two victims that were assaulted and are encouraging them to come forward and contact police.
Police said these offences were also captured on video surveillance.