Two demonstrators taking part in a May Day rally were arrested by Halifax police on Tuesday evening.
According to Halifax Regional Police (HRP), about 40 protesters were walking down the middle of Gottingen Street at around 6:20 p.m.
“Police requested the group which included young children, to move to the sidewalk as it was a safety and traffic concern,” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carlisle in a news release.
“Some members of the group complied with the police request but several declined to move to the sidewalk.”
Two of the demonstrators were arrested for breach of the peace, and released from custody a short time later.
A post on the Facebook page of the Industrial Workers of the World, K’jipuktuk (Halifax) calls the incident an “unwarranted confrontation, escalation, and detention” of their members.
“The atmosphere was jovial despite the rain, as the workers, including families with young children, chanted and sang while their small group made its way up Gottingen Street,” the post reads.
The group says police physically “forced the workers off the street.” Video posted by the group shows an officer pushing a demonstrator back onto the sidewalk from the roadway (28 second mark).
“In the escalation, two of our fellow workers were detained without cause by Halifax Regional Police. The first had complied with the orders and physical force used by the police and was on the sidewalk before being arrested,” it goes on to read.
HRP Insp. Dean Simmonds spoke to Global News on Wednesday afternoon and confirms the two people arrested were not charged.
“Public safety is important to us. We’re there to provide assistance to our community and make sure our community is safe,” he said.
He could not say, however, whether the protest had a permit.
“At this particular time, we’re looking into this particular matter,” he said.
When asked about the images of a police officer pushing a protester, he had a similar response.
“Again, we’re looking at this particular matter at this particular time.”
The rally was part of annual events highlighting workers’ rights, and included supporters of employees at the Smiling Goat coffee shop, where workers have alleged the chain’s owner has not been paying them.
According to rally organizers, the employer has since agreed to a payment plan for workers from the two unionized locations but those from the four locations that do not have their union certification yet “remain with little guarantee of pay.”
With a file from Alexander Quon