Halifax Regional Police are denying accusations of heavy-handedness in the arrest of a G8 protester yesterday.
About 50 demonstrators gathered at Cornwallis Park just after 7 a.m. to protest this week’s meeting of G8 development ministers in Halifax. The group proceeded to march down Marginal Road, where they were met by roughly 30 police officers.
The group largely complied when officers asked them to move from the roadway at the Halifax Port Authority to the public sidewalk.
As a line of officers encircled the group, however, police allege 35-year-old Toni MacAfee elbowed an officer in the chest.
MacAfee, an official with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers from Hammonds Plains, was taken to the ground by two officers, handcuffed, and placed in a police wagon.
She later appeared at Halifax provincial court on one charge of assaulting a police officer. She was released on conditions.
“We allege that, in the course of officers doing their duty and lawfully asking these people to move onto the sidewalk, that an officer was struck, (and) an arrest was made,” said police spokesman Const. Brian Palmeter. “She struck (the officer) in the chest ... elbowed him.”
But protest co-organizer Kyle Buott disagrees with the police allegations.
“I didn’t see it myself, (but) my understanding is that (MacAfee) fell onto the road and was pulled down by three police officers,” Buott said.
Yesterday’s protest, along with Sunday’s march of approximately 300 people in downtown Halifax, was largely peaceful. According to Buott, however, police used “heavy-handed tactics” to quell the demonstrations.
“I think the cops have made the attempt to incite protesters,” Buott said.
“(Police) have repeatedly pushed (protesters), they’ve taken flags from protesters for no reason. It seems to me that the cops are using a heavy-handed approach to dealing with this protest.”
But Palmeter said the police do everything in their power to liaison with demonstrators, and react only when necessary.
“We wait until our response is required before intervening,” he said. “The vast majority of protesters were protesting lawfully and peacefully, and were able to do so without any police interaction.”
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