A fifth person has been arrested and charged in connection with a protest that took place outside Hamilton's Mohawk College in September, which hosted a speaking event featuring People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier.
More charges were also laid against Alaa Al Soufi, one of those who was previously charged by Hamilton Police and whose Toronto family restaurant was forced to temporarily close in October after receiving a barrage of death threats and hate mail.
The latest person charged is 27-year-old Michael Lickers, of Hamilton, who was arrested on Nov. 27, Hamilton Police said in a release Tuesday. He was later released on a "promise to appear" in court.
Insp. Dave Hennick said Licker's charges — assault level one and intimidation — stem from an incident during the protest where a person allegedly blocked a patron, who had paid to enter the venue and had a "lawful right to," from entering.
The incident escalated and police allege a person attempted to slap the hat off the patron's head, which Hennick says constitutes assault. Another person then allegedly took the hat and ran off.
Additional charges also laid
The death threats against Al Soufi and his family came after the man was identified as one of the masked protestors who attempted to block an elderly woman using a walker and another man from entering the event at Mohawk College.
A video of the confrontation was shared worldwide on social media in the days after the protest, garnering millions of views.
Police said in the release that the additional charges were laid "as a result of witnesses coming forward" and the review of "further video evidence."
Hennick said the new charges alleges Al Soufi, while wearing a balaclava,"impeded" the path of a woman walking through the nearby parking lot, and then slapped the hat off her head.
The allegation is that he grabbed the hat and ran off with it, Hennick said. It was later picked up and returned to police by a man in the crowd outside the event.
The inspector said police have now confirmed the identity of the woman, who is "supportive of criminal charges." That has allowed police, Hennick said, to additionally charge Al Soufi with assault level one, theft under $5,000, intimidation and disguise with intent.
Violent clashes at event
Violent clashes broke out at the protest as members of the public and People's Party supporters, who had bought tickets to the event, were confronted by a group of roughly 100 protesters.
On the night of the event, police said four people were arrested at the scene and all were later released unconditionally. One of those was a person supporting the Bernier event, while the other three were counter protesters.
Of the five people now charged, three of them are the same three who protested against the Bernier event and were originally arrested by police. A fourth person also involved in the protest against the event was later arrested.
Lickers is now the fifth person to be charged, and police allege he was also involved in the protest against members of the public and supporters of the People's Party who wanted to attend the Sept. 29 event.
When investigating the actions of people present at the protest, Hennick said investigators approached it "regardless of political affiliation" and instead focused on identifying "criminal behaviour."
"It's not about sides," he said.