- Sep 29, 2005
- Reaction score
- Surfing the Oceans of Liquidity
HALIFAX -- A protest outside a conference on a proposed free trade zone for eastern Canada and the northeastern United States turned violent Friday in Halifax. Twenty people were arrested and two police officers were injured when demonstrators started pelting officers with rocks and balloons filled with paint.
Passers-by had to duck for cover and some of Halifax's busiest streets were littered with broken glass before police, using tear gas, could quell the disturbance.
The violence started when a group of protesters calling themselves the "Black Bloc" broke away from the main march and confronted police.
"Well, I guess people have a right to protest, but it got a little out of hand," said Bud True, who operates a food stand that was hit by paint balloons.
The march had started peacefully as a protest against the Atlantica free-trade conference. Organizers said they didn't want the protest to turn violent - they just wanted to make a point.
"We think Atlantica is a horrible policy. We think it's going to roll back the minimum wage and attack labour and collective bargaining rights and it's not going to be good environmental stewardship and we want to out that," said David Bush of the Alliance Against Atlantica, one of the protest groups taking part.
But as the march weaved through streets cleared of traffic, tempers frayed.
Some of the protesters complained police used allegedly heavy-handed tactics.
Police denied that and pointed out two officers were injured Friday.
"We respect everyone's right to protest peacefully," said Const. Teresa Brian of the Halifax Regional Police. "When a small group begins committing criminal acts, then we're forced to use action. We used a very measured reaction."