Image of N.S. officers at ‘freedom fighters’ event shared without context: RCMP

Click to play video: 'Global News at 6 Halifax: Oct. 7'
Global News at 6 Halifax: Oct. 7
Global News at 6 Halifax from Oct. 7, 2022. – Oct 7, 2022

An image of a Nova Scotia RCMP officer wearing a “thin blue line” patch while responding to a self-proclaimed “Freedom Fighters” event this weekend circulated on social media.

It was posted by Twitter user @Seebo429 on Saturday night, among others on social media, with the caption reading: “RCMP checking out the convoy cookout in the valley. What’s that patch on the officer’s chest? I don’t want to get my colours mixed up again.” The post received nearly 400 likes and over 100 retweets.

RCMP responded to the tweet on Sunday, saying, “The photo and information has been sent to the appropriate unit for follow up as necessary.”

In a Monday news release, RCMP said the image was shared “without the accurate context.”

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In the release, RCMP said police were called for a noise complaint in Nictaux, located southeast of Middleton in Annapolis County, at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

The complaint was made against a home where about 50 self-proclaimed “Freedom Fighters” gathered, according to police, “with a clear indication of alcohol being consumed.”

Police say there was a poster displayed at the end of the driveway of the home, stating “Freedom Fighter PTSD Drive.”

Police said in the release that two officers arrived to the house and a large group of men told them they were not welcome there.

“One of the RCMP officers spoke with a man who identified himself as the president of the Freedom Fighters to explain the noise by-law in Annapolis County,” read the release.

“Meanwhile, the second officer was working to maintain calm among the group of event attendees that had approached the officers.”

Police said the music was turned down to address the noise complaint.

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“When the RCMP officers went to leave, one man stated that police didn’t pay the $5 entry fee which was quickly seconded by another and followed by individuals who were surrounding the officers. To keep the situation diffused and avoid the potential for violence, the entry fee was paid with the RCMP officer’s personal funds,” the RCMP said Monday.

“The RCMP is not affiliated with the ‘Freedom Fighters’ group.”

The release also said the group of men requested a photo with the police officers, and “in an effort to mitigate an escalation of the situation,” the officers agreed to the photo. That’s the photo circulating online.

RCMP said the officer wearing the thin blue line patch has since removed it from his uniform, and “this has been addressed by his supervisor.”

The thin blue line symbol depicts a blue line across a black and grey Maple Leaf. While some consider the image a sign of police solidarity, it has also been criticized as a symbol of white supremacy.

‘Freedom Fighters’ group responds

Freedom Fighters Nova Scotia Chapter is part of a larger national group composed of veterans and civilians who say they defend Canadians’ “freedoms.”

In a statement Tuesday, the group said there was no dispute, risk of violence or heated conversation between Freedom Fighters members or any attendees. RCMP officers were amicable, polite and jovial at times, it said.

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“Jokingly, a Freedom Fighters veteran and guardian member made a reference to the event being by donation and suggested the officers contribute to the fundraiser,” the group said.

“Without hesitation, one of the officers withdrew a ten-dollar bill and provided it to the member for donation, at which time the member asked if he could take a picture with the officers. On leaving the event site, the officers were extended an invitation to return once their shift was over, should they wish to participate in the fundraising event.”

Officers across the country have been criticized for wearing thin blue line patches. In July, the Charlottetown Police Services publicly apologized after an image surfaced online of one of its members wearing the symbol.

— With files from The Canadian Press. 

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