More charges laid in protest outside Maxime Bernier event in Hamilton

People's Party leader Maxime Bernier participates in a press conference after the French-language Federal leader's debate in Gatineau, Quebec, on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

HAMILTON -- Police in Hamilton have laid more charges and made an additional arrest in connection with a protest outside an event featuring People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier during the fall election campaign.

Investigators say a fourth suspect, 27-year-old Michael Lickers, has been arrested and charged with assault and intimidation, and is due in court on Christmas Eve.

One of the suspects previously arrested in the Sept. 29 incident, Alaa Al Soufi, is now also facing additional charges of assault, theft under $5,000, intimidation and disguise with intent.

Al Soufi, whose family temporarily shut down their Toronto restaurant amid backlash over his participation in the protest, was charged last month with two counts of intimidation, two of disguise with intent and one of causing a disturbance.

Police say the new charges against Al Soufi were laid after additional witnesses came forward and officers reviewed more video footage of the rally.

They have said about 100 protesters were outside the building at Mohawk College that night as people entered the venue.

No injuries were reported, but the protest became mired in controversy when video footage emerged showing masked protesters blocking the path of an elderly woman with a walker.

The Al Soufi family said it received hundreds of death threats over their son's involvement, prompting them to shutter their business in October.

The popular Syrian restaurant, Soufi's, reopened days later, with the family citing an outpouring of support from across Canada. The restaurant is temporarily under different management while the family takes a break from its daily operations.

The family also filed a complaint with Toronto police over what it described as hundreds of hate messages it received. That complaint remains under investigation.

This report by The Canadian Press was originally published on Dec. 3, 2019.