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Video showing teen altercation in Fredericton sparks police investigation, calls for change

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A video appears to show two teens walking in a parking lot, when another comes from behind and pulls one of them to the ground.

A physical altercation begins, while others stand by, watch and record on their phones.

It happened April 30 during the lunch hour between two students who attend Leo Hayes High School. It did not happen on school grounds, and none of the bystanders were teachers or staff at the school, according to the Anglophone West School District.

"Fredericton Police responded to a call of a fight in progress between two female youth on Cliffe Street. The officers at the scene interacted with the parties involved and initiated an investigation," read a news release from the Fredericton Police Force Thursday evening.

In a statement, the district said it was a citizen who reported the altercation to Fredericton Police Force and officers notified the school.

The police say their major crime unit is actively investigating the incident and they couldn’t give any more details at this time.

"Investigations of this nature can be complex and take time. They are conducted based on facts and evidence, not on rumors or speculations," said Fredericton police in their release. 

"Our officers and investigators manage multiple files, each of importance, always upholding our core values: integrity, respect, professionalism and compassion. These values guide them in their commitment to ensuring each investigation is conducted thoroughly and fairly."

The video has been widely circulated.

Independent MLA Dominic Cardy has spoken to one of the teens and her family. He says the family is Jewish, and believes that’s why she was targeted.

“If you're an elected official, you've got a responsibility to stand up and say, ‘Everyone in our community deserves to be safe. Muslim kids, Jewish kids, gay kids, and we have got to stop tolerating intolerance,’” he told reporters at the New Brunswick legislature. “That is not how you have a free and open society.”

CTV News has made attempts to reach the family, but has yet to hear back.

Public Safety Minister Kris Austin called the video “heartbreaking and very disturbing in every level.”

He’s advising everyone to allow authorities to determine what happened.

“We're seeing an increase in violence in our schools on one hand, which is unacceptable. And, if the investigation does conclude that this is an act of anti-Semitism, it takes it to a whole other level. And I've said before, I'll say again, we're not going to tolerate it,” he said. “But we do have to allow the investigation to be completed.”

Anglophone West said the “misinformation, assumptions and misguided statements” on social media are “not helpful” and are impacting the learning and working environment at Leo Hayes High.

“The school administration and educational support services team have communicated in a responsible and caring manner with the parents and students of those involved in the incident,” the district said in statement. “The superintendent and director have reviewed the work of the school administration and confirm appropriate action was taken.” 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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