Three people have been deported and the visa status of three others is under review as Mounties combat a wave of criminal activity, some captured in violent videos, in the Newton area.
3 people deported amid RCMP investigation into Surrey brawls caught on camera
Surrey RCMP announced the deportations Tuesday as they weathered accusations from community members that not enough was being done to quell the violence, which some have attributed primarily to international students. Videos of assaults and other unruly behaviour filmed in the area have made the rounds on social media, alarming citizens and prompting criticism of police.
In mid-August, a video was posted to social media that captured a messy, violent brawl in the parking lot of a Strawberry Hills strip mall. Another video, filmed last week in the same area and posted Thursday on YouTube, shows a group of five or six men, most wearing dark hoodies, vandalizing cars in a parking lot in the 7000-block of 128th Street in Surrey.
On Tuesday, concerned community members attended a forum at Surrey’s Grand Taj Banquet Hall to discuss the violence and what should be done. The event was organized by Media Waves Communications, an internet radio station in Surrey.
Media Waves radio host Ashiana Khan, a Surrey resident, said the issue is top of mind for her listeners. When she discussed the most recent violent video during a morning talk show on Nov. 15, her phones lines lit up.
“I started getting calls from the community after the talk show that they were concerned, they had fear in the community that these kinds of behaviours were happening again,” she said. “These are international students and, as a Canadian, our social behaviour is not like that. We don’t go and start beating people up on the street. We rarely used to hear something like that, so now that’s a big concern.”
VANCOUVER – Three people have been deported from Canada since police began investigating video of a Surrey brawl that circulated on social media over the summer.
Khan said the group would be circulating petitions demanding the federal government review the student visa process.
The update came hours before a planned community forum at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall, which was organized to address growing concerns about violence in Surrey.
Surrey Mounties tied to reassure the public Tuesday, providing more information about their attempts to improve safety in the area.
Cpl. Elenore Sturko said in a news release that Mounties have been running an enforcement project in the Strawberry Hills area since March targeting youths and young adults congregating in the area and generating complaints of harassment, public intoxication, and fights,”
Over 50 individuals connected to these groups have been investigated, Mounties said, and police have been working with businesses and property owners to improve safety.
“Our community response unit has been actively engaged in this issue for the past eight months,” said Supt, Shawn Gill. “While these incidents involving groups of youth are somewhat isolated, we are dealing with those responsible for these disturbances, and working to prevent further incidents from happening.”
While not all of the incidents involved international students, police said, they reminded individuals in Canada on a visa that any criminal activity violates the conditions of their stay and they could result in deportation.
The Surrey RCMP’s diversity and Indigenous peoples unit will also be reaching out to local international student associations to provide information on visa conditions.
“We hope that (RCMP) are going to look closely into this, because this happens right in the core of Surrey, in Newton,” said Khan, who added that she visits the Strawberry Hills plaza often. “We don’t want these things. I want RCMP to be a little more serious on this.”
Surrey RCMP says three people have been deported amid investigations into at least two brawls captured on video in the Newton area.
Police said they’d been “actively engaged” in the issue, and were looking into 50 people involved in the large groups of youth, some of them allegedly international students, seen in the videos.
READ MORE: Surrey ‘mob violence’ caught on video leads to RCMP investigation, mayor calls for action
According to police, the first video involved a fight in the parking lot of a strip mall in Strawberry Hills in August. The second video showed an assault with a weapon and other mischief in a parking lot early in the morning hours of Nov. 11.
Mounties say their Community Response Unit has been working on public safety concerns involving youth congregating, drinking and fighting in the Strawberry Hills area since March.
Police say their Diversity and Indigenous Peoples Unit was also working with local international student associations to provide education and prevention information.
“While not all of these incidents involve international students, law enforcement officials want to remind individuals who are visiting Canada on a Visa that any engagement in criminal activity violates the condition of their Visa and they could be removed from Canada as a result,” said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko in a media release.
Ashiana Khań, a talk radio host with internet Indian radio station Media Waves Communication, is hosting a public forum on the violence in the neighbourhood Tuesday night.
She said she wants to see more action from police, and stricter vetting of international students coming to Canada.
“During the last few weeks there have been some videos which are going viral on social media, which is very concerning to see, and now our Canadian born kids are questioning it,” she said.
Khań said she was pleased to hear that police had made progress on the Strawberry Hills mall incident, but the more recent brawl was still a concern.
She said she hopes the public turns out Tuesday night to voice their concerns to police and government leaders, and to push for more enforcement.
The viral videos of the brawls caught the attention of Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, who last week issued a statement calling them repugnant” and a risk to the public.
McCallum said he wants to see the RCMP take “immediate and strong action to get a handle on this kind of mob violence that is occurring far too frequently in Surrey.”
In the wake of the brawl at the Strawberry Hills mall, Mounties said they stepped up patrols in the area, calling it a “hotspot” for violent behaviour.
On Tuesday, police said in addition to the three people who had been deported, police were reviewing the status of three others.