Thursday, 18 July 2019
featured Racism

How Halifax police wrote the news about Saturday’s NCA rally

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – There are a few questionable assertions in a news release issued by the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) on Saturday. The news release is about efforts by members of the National Citizens Alliance (NCA) to hold a rally in front of City Hall on that day.

For starters, while the HRP press release states that an arrest was made after NCA leader Stepen Garvey was “assaulted by an adult male from Halifax Against Hate,” this is not what happened. 

What did happenis that a counter demonstrator carefully knocked off NCA leader Stephen Garvey’s baseball hat, without making physical contact. That’s not an assault! 

Coast Reporter Sandra Hannebohm caught the entire non-event on video.

After counter protesters left the Grand Parade, and I went home, the NCA returned, and so did a few counter protesters. 

The HRP press release describes how at that time police arrested an additional counter protester who allegedly removed a NCA banner. As well, police used pepper spray after an officer was swarmed by counter protesters, the press release states.

Counter protesters say that one of theirs was attacked by several NCA associates, and was pepper sprayed by police while NCA members were on top of him.

A video dispersed by Halifax Against Hate to a degree supports this narrative in that it seems to show how a single counter protester is being attacked by several NCA supporters. 

There is no mention of this attack in the HRP retelling of events. According to the HRP press release no NCA members were arrested.

So cops are particularly heavy handed on protesters, and create a narrative that doesn’t match video and eye witness reports. That’s not unheard of in Nova Scotia. It happens.

But what is remarkable is how local media copied and pasted the HRP press release and called it a day.

The CBC, the Star Halifax, and the Chronicle Herald desk reporters filed their stories relying entirely on the HRP version of events.

This is not to blame individual reporters who often do wonderful work under difficult circumstances, but it raises questions about editorial policies at their organizations.

The reporters did not witness the rally and what happened after. They chose not to question the police, or search out anybody who was there. The story they told was flawed.

See also: Protesters pepper sprayed, one arrested, during peaceful Burnside jail protest (updated)

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2 Comments

  1. Excellent article! Just a quick tip: pull the definition for assault from the Criminal Code of Canada. The legal terminology is a little different than the actual definition of the word.

    Other than that, I definitely agree. The cops need to step-up.

    Reply
    1. Author

      Thanks, Bonnie. I considered that definition when I wrote the piece, but my sense is that police intended the word to be understood in its general descriptive sense, or at least leave it ambiguous. The press certainly didn’t make that distinction.

      Reply

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