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911 dispatch apologizes to Victoria business after ignoring calls for help during COVID-19 protest


Greater Victoria’s 911 dispatch service is apologizing to the staff of a downtown Starbucks after calls for help were ignored.

During a large anti-vaccine mandate protest on Saturday, management of a Starbucks across from B.C.’s legislature say unruly protesters entered the business unmasked and refused to leave.

Manager Rich Becker said his staff were being threatened and he believed they were in danger.

“They were directly in harm’s way,” said Becker.

Unwilling to physically remove the protesters himself, Becker called police twice. He says his calls for help were ignored and he was told to call the non-emergency line.

E-Comm, which manages 911 dispatch in Greater Victoria, admits that was a mistake.

After CTV News pressed Victoria police for answers about the 911 calls, E-Comm conducted an investigation of the incident.

“After reviewing both 911 calls, we can confirm that based on the situation the caller was describing, a police file should have been created,” said E-Comm spokesperson Jasmine Bradley.

“Unfortunately, this was not the case and the caller was incorrectly referred to the non-emergency line," Bradley added.

E-Comm and the Victoria police both apologized to Becker and his staff for the mistake. E-Comm says a 911 call was warranted and staff did the right thing by calling.

Becker says he will be back at the Starbucks all day on Saturday as another, possibly larger, anti-vaccine mandate rally is planned for the legislature.

Following a challenging day for Hotel Grand Pacific staff last Saturday, the manager there says the hotel will add extra security this Saturday.

“The hotel will be accessible for registered hotel guests only,” said general manager Reid James. “Our washrooms and parking lot will be closed to the public. Additional security will be in place.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan addressed the abuse that several Victoria businesses faced last week in an interview with CFAX 1070 radio Friday.

"My message to the protesters is, 'I hear you, but don’t take away other peoples' liberties to declare that yours are being abused,'" said Horgan.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps issued a statement Friday, asking protesters to be respectful and avoid harassing local businesses. 

"As the capital city, we expect protests to take place and people to exercise their democratic right to gather and express their views," Helps said.

“However, emails from residents and businesses in the wake of last weekend’s protests show that some of the people involved in the protests went beyond the right to peacefully gather and infringed on the well-being and safety of others."

The mayor said the city received reports last weekend of people throwing eggs at homes that had signs up supporting health-care workers, as well as complaints of racist language among protesters. Top Stories

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