A 68-year-old man was arrested in Sherbrooke, N.S., while attending two information sessions organized by Atlantic Gold aimed at informing the St. Mary’s community about modern tailings management practices and to answer questions.
He was forced out the room by an RCMP officer and the company’s security guard.
(Credit: Joan Baxter / Halifax Examiner)
“I would like to know why this happened, who authorized the Mounties to arrest me using the level of force and violence that they did,” said John Perkins, a community resident who still doesn’t know why he was forced out.
Perkins is involved with the efforts of Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia to keep gold mines out. He’s also supporting and assisting the St. Mary’s River Association, which works to protect the St. Mary’s River as a healthy ecosystem for Atlantic Salmon and other native animals and plants.
About 70 people attended the sessions to hear what Atlantic Gold had to say about their plans to have a gold mine next to the St. Mary’s River. Perkins was one of them.
“It was absolutely shocking. It was like something out of a movie,” said Raymond Plourde, who was one of the attendees and witnessed Perkins’ removal.
“There was no disturbance or violence or anything that would have justified what happened a few minutes after the second session started,” he added.
Atlantic Gold said in a statement sent to Global Halifax that “the Atlantic Gold security team member informed this individual that they were being asked to leave the evening meeting. This individual had attended the same session earlier in the day and had an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers at that time.”
Seven others were asked to leave, too, but only Perkins was arrested.
“We were asked to leave for no apparent reason. There were two public meetings that day,” said Scott Beaver, president of the St. Mary’s River Association, Perkins’ friend and one of the seven people told to leave.
“We asked if we could come to the second one, no problem, but some guy came to us from nowhere and said we had to leave and we were so shocked.”
Atlantic Gold said they “respect people’s right to protest, however they must be respectful, follow the law and avoid belligerent and disrespectful conduct. Nevertheless the incident is unfortunate and regretful.”
Plourde said that the company made it clear at the beginning of the session that any civil action must be done outside, but “there was no protest. There were no signs.
“I’d like to know how both Atlantic Gold and police can be held accountable for their overreaction. And I’d like to know how a private citizen attending a public meeting in a public building can be treated the way I was treated,” said Perkins.
According to Atlantic Gold, “after three polite requests to leave the meeting, the individual was informed that the RCMP would be called to escort them from the premises. An RCMP officer then invited the individual to leave the building for a discussion, however, this person refused and became confrontational with the officers and was subsequently taken into custody and charged with trespassing and obstruction.”
Atlantic Gold later asked that the person be released without charges.
Perkins, Beaver and Plourde believe the arrest was done on false pretenses.
“There was no disturbance. There was no justifiable reason for the heavy handed you know accosting of this guy dragging them out of the room pushing him to the floor handcuffing him and dragging him off to jail,” said Raymond.