Police called after altercation involving anti-maskers at Ottawa business
OTTAWA -- Ottawa police were forced to respond to an incident on Bank Street Thursday night just after 7:00 p.m. when an altercation unfolded between a group of anti-maskers and staff at a restaurant.
The incident was caught on video and streamed live over social media, appearing to show a fight between an employee and a customer.
In a statement, Gabriel’s Pizza said police are investigating the incident.
"We are aware of an incident which took place...The incident is currently under investigation with the Ottawa Police Service, and we are fully cooperating with their investigation," a spokesperson for the Ottawa pizza chain wrote in an email.
CTV News reached out to the parties involved in the video but did not hear back.
In a comment on social media, the poster of the video wrote they are entering businesses and choosing not to follow public health guidelines - like masking or showing proof of vaccination - in order to, "Try our best to teach businesss (sic) the real law which so far has been really successful until now."
"There’s a very blatant hypocrisy in the fact that these groups were previously chanting about small businesses and now are making their way into businesses small and large looking to harass the workers,” said Toronto-based lawyer Caryma Sa’d.
Gabriel’s Pizza wrote in a statement that Thursday’s incident is not isolated, writing that people, "Call the specific store with threatening comments," and "relay vulgar language to our hostess and young staff members."
Gabriel Pizza adds that they will continue to follow all public health protocols and that they will not tolerate "the harassment of our valued customers and staff."
Business advocates say the incident highlights a growing challenge.
"When we see people who are out trying to bring people together by putting pressure against businesses who are just following the government mandate rules, it’s incredibly frustrating," small business advocate Michael Wood said.
Wood says there are concerns these incidents could increase.
"I think we need bylaw to be ready, I understand that they’re overloaded, we need OPS to be ready to engage because each right now we don’t need any additional pressures in small business," Wood said.
CTV News Ottawa contacted both the Ottawa Police Service and Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services but did not receive a response by deadline.