Environmentalist accuses Brian Pallister of assault in cellphone scuffle
Tories accuse protester of NDP connection, plus intimidation and disruption
Environmental activist Riley McMurray has filed a police report accusing Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister of assaulting him before a Tory campaign event Monday.
The PC campaign, meanwhile, said it's seen an escalation in behaviour from McMurray, who has attended three Tory events. McMurray was one of two environmentalists who interrupted Pallister at a PC rally in Winnipeg last week.
In a cellphone video posted to social media Monday night, Pallister and his team can be seen approaching a campaign stop at the Canadian Footwear location on Adelaide Street.
The protester filming the video, Riley McMurray, 23, can be heard saying he has questions for Pallister, but then it becomes impossible to see what happens as some sort of altercation takes place.
Pallister grabs protester's phone
"Riley, no hands off," a female Tory staffer is heard saying in the video during the scuffle. That's followed immediately by, "No, no, no; Brian, Brian, Brian."
McMurray said Pallister grabbed the cellphone he was using to record him. After a brief altercation, a PC staffer handed the cellphone back, McMurray said.
"He was evidently so repulsed by the idea of that happening that he felt it necessary to grab the phone out of my hands," he said. "If you look in the Criminal Code, that's assault. He put hands on me in a way that was threatening which I didn't consent to, so I'm absolutely filing a police report."
McMurray forwarded an email indicating he submitted an online police report Tuesday morning.
"All he had to do was answer the questions. Like really, we're not being ridiculous," McMurray said.
McMurray said he's affiliated with the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition.
He's shown up at three PC events during this campaign. A Facebook post by Rilesburg McMurray encouraged others to show up at Pallister's campaign stop at Canadian Footwear with concealed anti-Pallister signs, "storming the stage with them," because "they recognize me now."
McMurray said he has been a card-carrying New Democrat and a Selinger supporter in the past, but he no longer supports the party. Online he has referred to himself as an anarchist.
In a statement Tuesday, Pallister's campaign team said McMurray was asked to leave the venue by Canadian Footwear staff and then "the protester physically blocked Mr. Pallister's entry."
"This is simply more desperate grandstanding by a Selinger campaign operative, who continues to publicly invite disruption, going so far as to urge people 'to storm the stage,'" the PCs wrote in a statement.