Free legal advice offered to those charged in Halifax encampment protest

Click to play video: 'Free legal advice offered to people arrested in Halifax encampment protest' Free legal advice offered to people arrested in Halifax encampment protest
WATCH: Last week the evictions of people living in encampments around Halifax sparked outrage among protesters. The protests turned violent, with some people being arrested and criminally charged. On Wednesday, free legal advice was offered to those affected. Amber Fryday has more. – Aug 25, 2021

Last Wednesday, Halifax Regional Municipality’s decision to evict people living in housing shelters around the city sparked an outrage amongst allies resulting in 24 people being arrested and charged with criminal offenses and some allegedly being assaulted by Halifax Regional Police officers.

A majority of those arrested face charges of obstruction of justice.

Coverdale, a non-profit charitable organization which offers support for women and gender diverse folks in navigating the criminal justice system, hosted a drop-in information session offering free legal advice to those who were charged.

Read more: Halifax mayor calls it ‘a difficult day,’ but stands by encampment takedown

“Many of the people that were charged that day have never had any interaction with police, have never been inside of a court room and it’s an incredibly overwhelming and confusing and traumatizing experience,” said Ash Avery, who is the executive director of Cloverdale.

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Lawyers from Nova Scotia Legal Aid, Dalhousie Legal Aid and the Elizabeth Fry society were available to offer support and advice.

Criminal defense lawyer Josh Nodelman, who works with Nova Scotia Legal Aid, said he was hoping to provide supports for anyone who was unclear where to turn with issues they were facing involving the incident.

“My concerns are these are people facing criminal sanction. The penalties could potentially involve jail. Even if not, penalties could involve picking up a criminal record, which of course could affect ones employability,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Supporters vow to protect encampment until permanent housing option available' Supporters vow to protect encampment until permanent housing option available
Supporters vow to protect encampment until permanent housing option available – Aug 23, 2021

In addition to the legal information provided, Coverdale offered food, sleeping bags, and toiletries for unhoused people. Avery said the eviction and the outcome of what transpired is what she sees as being the height of the housing crisis the province is currently facing and that the charges laid were not warranted.

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“I see the charges as being an incredibly unfortunate result of what is a problem that should have never involve police and that should have never reached the point that it did.”

Those who did show up for information did not want to be interviewed.

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