Halifax – Close to 150 people gathered at Halifax’s Grand Parade Square on a Saturday afternoon to defend civil liberties, demand a public inquiry into police actions, and support those still being held in detention from the g8/g20 summit actions on and around June 25th.
Speakers at the rally included Jane Kirby, an activist with No One Is Illegal – Halifax; Mary Burnet, a local activist who had been in Toronto and spoke of the conditions in the detention centre; myself, and; Isaac Saney, a Dalhousie University faculty member (teaches International Development Studies in the Continuing Ed department).
Several folks spoke to the atrocious behaviour of police officers at the summits, providing examples like friends and organizers being woken in their beds in advance of Saturday’s protest and detained to ensure they could not participate in further actions including the big rally on Saturday. Other police actions called into question were the trumped up charges of assault from someone blowing bubbles; aggressive tactics of kettling and using police horses, beating their batons against their shields; nabbing people from the crowd randomly and completely ignoring civil liberties. The police-state mentality and intimidation tactics were also highlighted.
We also heard about conditions in the detention centre, with male officers strip searching and doing cavity searches of female detainees, making racist and prejudicial comments and detaining members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer (GLBTQ) community in a separate location, with toilets with no door for privacy, and little water or food provided. Some compared it to torture.
During my speech, I talked about the Council’s interventions in the lead-up to and during the summits, our outrage at the g8 and g20 decisions and at the suspension of civil liberties, and our call for a public inquiry into the appropriateness of police actions, along with the need to scrap these summits and talk about these issues at the G192 – the United Nations.
The mood was good although it is clear there is a lot of shock and anger over what happened, and what didn’t happen, in Toronto.
There was decent media in attendance as well, including CBC, the Halifax Media Coop and the Chronicle Herald. Here are a few articles from the event:
The police were not visable for the majority of the protest, although after the rally we decided to march to Halifax Police Headquarters and did end up having a police cruiser sitting in the parking lot across the road observing us. I personally really appreciated that distance.
Atlantic Regional Organizer | the Council of Canadians