Vancouver police treating attack on Syrian refugees as a hate crime

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      The Vancouver Police Department is investigating an attack on Syrian refugees as a hate crime.

      "A number of sections within the Vancouver Police Department are assisting with the investigation," reads a January 9 media release. "Although the motive for the pepper-spraying is unknown at this time, investigators are treating it as a hate motivated crime, until determined otherwise."

      The incident in question occurred outside the Muslim Association of Canada Centre located at 2122 Kingsway Avenue late in the evening of Friday, January 8. The gathering was a welcome event for the refugees, who had recently arrived in Vancouver.

      At around 10:30 p.m., the event was coming to an end and the group of refugees was waiting outside for a bus. It was then that they were assaulted with pepper spray by someone on a bicycle.

      According to CBC News, as many as 30 people were treated for exposure to the chemical, including many women and young children.

      The VPD's January 9 media release describes the assailant as having been wearing a white hooded sweatshirt.

      The force has scheduled a press conference for later this afternoon and said that additional information will be released at that time.

      The attack has been widely condemned by residents of Vancouver.

      Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson have similarly voiced their disgust with the incident.

      Trudeau previously pledged to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the last year, plus another 15,000 by the end of February 2016.

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