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police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.

Velasquez back in Vermont to face charges

in Derby/Derby Line/Newport/Quebec/Sherbrooke/Stanstead/Vermont

police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.
DERBY LINE — The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) arrived last week at the Derby Line port of entry with Valentina Velasquez.

Velasquez, the suspect in an attempted armed robbery that took place in Derby, who fled the country and illegally entered Canada without inspection in September, was subject to a Canadian Removal Order due to criminal activity in the province of Quebec.

Before Velasquez entered Canada and failed to present herself to a CBSA office, she is alledged to have attempted to rob the Derby Corner Mini Mart with a rifle, leading police on a high-speed chase on Route 5.

The pursuit ended in Quebec when she lost control of her vehicle and was apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Sûreté du Québec.

At court in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Velasquez pled guilty and was sentenced to 135 days of prison for offenses under the Criminal Code of Canada and under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

On January 7, after serving her sentence in Canada, she was turned over to U.S. authorities by the CBSA.

Police now say that law enforcement databases indicate that 31-year-old Velasquez has a lengthy criminal record and was the subject of two active arrest warrants outside of Orleans County.

“Active collaboration with our federal, state and international law enforcement partners led to the return of an alleged criminal to face justice in Vermont,” said Kevin W. Weeks, CBP director of Field Operations in Boston. “Protecting public safety is a responsibility that falls on both sides of the international boundary, and CBP is proud to work side by side with our Canadian counterparts, taking dangerous people off the street.”

The charges and allegations contained in criminal complaints are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.

Quebec court orders psychiatric exam for international police chase suspect

in Derby/Eastern Townships/Newport/News/Quebec/Sherbrooke

police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.
SHERBROOKE, QC — Valentina Velasquez, 31, of Newport, will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine her ability to face the charges against her in Canada, after she led police on an international chase that started in Derby, and ended near Coaticook, Quebec.

The request for the evaluation came through her lawyer who was at the Sherbrooke Courthouse Monday afternoon. Velasquez remains in custody in Canada, where she faces charges of impaired and dangerous driving, armed assault, and flight from a peace officer.

It is expected that Velasquez will be held in Canada until her Canadian criminal charges are completed. She will then return to the U.S. to face her Vermont charges, which include attempted burglary, driving while license suspended, attempting to elude, careless and negligent operation, and larceny of a motor vehicle.

Velasquez is accused of attempting to break into the Derby Corner Mini Mart. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the store early Friday morning, and encountered Velasquez attempting to leave in a tan Oldsmobile sedan.

A pursuit by several local law enforcement agencies followed Velasquez north on Route 5 to Derby Line, where she crossed into Canada at the Route 5 Port of Entry without stopping.

Canadian authorities continued the pursuit, eventually using spike strips to force the vehicle off of the road.

Velasquez was taken into custody by Sûreté du Québec in Coaticook. She was found at the time to be in possession of a firearm.

Nearly 300 march in solidarity with Gaza in Sherbrooke

in Eastern Townships/News/Quebec/Sherbrooke
All photos by Meziani Djahid.
All photos by Meziani Djahid.

SHERBROOKE, QC — Chanting “Isreal assassin,” and “vivre, vivre, Palistine,” as well as accusing Israel of genocide, nearly three hundred protesters took to the streets of downtown Sherbrooke on Saturday to march in solidarity with Gaza.

The large crowd started gathering on Place de la Gare, outside the Grand Times Hotel at around noon, and by 1 p.m. the group was ready to begin the walk, waving Palestinian flags, and holding up signs calling for an end to the military action in Gaza and condemning the escalating ground offensive by Israeli troops.

Many of the demonstrators wore the traditional black-and-white checkered scarfs that have come to be the symbol of the Palestinian cause. One protester had her entire face painted the green, white, black, and red of the Palestinian flag.

Despite the size of the crowd and the heavy traffic through downtown at the time, the march was orderly. Escorted by police, the protest was vocal and passionate, but remained peaceful. The demonstration received much local support, as bystanders looking on cheered the march, and cars driving by honked their horns in solidarity.

Sherbrooke protest for Gaza Quebec 1

The crowd was diverse, with many families participating with young children, some even marching behind strollers.

The organizers of the protest were three young women in their twenties, who used the power of social media, Facebook in particular, to quickly mobilize the group.

“We denounce the attacks of Israel, and we will not allow our government to speak for us and say that we support Israel,” Hanna Krabchi, one of the organizers said after the march on Saturday. “We are not with them, we’re with the Palestinian people until the end,” she added.

Along with Krabchi, the march was organized by Hasna Agourram, and Imene Djendli.

The majority of the protesters interviewed shared Krabchi’s view that one of the main reasons for the march was to let the Canadian government know that they are not representing them when they say Canada stands with Israel.

“Me, as a Quebecois, as a Canadian, I don’t support Israel, so I don’t know who told Harper that we as a Canadian people support Israel,” a protester named Harris said afterward. “It’s a long struggle that the people of Palestine have faced, but they will have victory in the end, God willing.”

Over the weekend, the Israeli-Gaza conflict sparked protests worldwide. On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the shelling of Gaza by the Israelis an “atrocious action,” and called for an immediate end to the fighting.

By Monday, the two-week old conflict has seen over 500 Palestinian casualties, nearly 100 of which were children.

The march led protesters in a loop through the city, ending back where they started from. In total, the demonstration lasted close to two hours, with many of the protesters facing the heat of the day while taking part in the 18 hour fasts that have been taking place during the month of Ramadan, where Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset.

Sherbrooke protest for Gaza Quebec 3

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