Woman charged with assault following violent police incident as tents removed from Vancouver's Hastings Street

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Seven people were arrested following a violent incident with police in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on Tuesday.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Seven people were arrested following a violent incident with police in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

A woman has been charged for assaulting a police officer after a violent incident involving police on Tuesday afternoon, as city staff began the process of removing tents and other structures from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Police say Alene West, 44, has been charged with assault with a weapon, after an officer was struck in the head with an object.

In total, seven people were arrested following the incident outside the Carnegie Centre on Main and Hastings streets around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Security guards at the centre alerted police to a man causing a disturbance. Residents and community activists came to the defence of the man, and a brawl ensued with police deploying pepper spray.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Of the seven arrested, three were temporarily detained in jail for breaching the peace, while three others — including the man accused of causing the disturbance — are expected to appear in court at a later date, police said Thursday.

According to police, the city asked to have officers in the area as staff began what's expected to be a weeks-long process to remove tents. They said police had no role in the removing of tents, structures, debris, or personal items.

Sarah Blyth, executive director of the Overdose Prevention Society, questioned the large police presence in the area.

"I think at the beginning of the day, people were working together — community members with the firefighters and the engineers," she said.

"But the police presence really causes a lot of issues for people. There's not a lot of trust there."