Nova Scotia

20 arrested in Atlantica protests in Halifax

Police and paint-throwing protesters clashed in the streets of Halifax on Friday, resulting in at least 20 arrests as delegates met at a conference promoting a trade zone for the region.

Police and paint-throwing protesters clashed in the streets of Halifax on Friday, resulting in at least 20 arrestsas delegates met at a conference promotinga trade zone for the region.

About 50 people, many masked andwearing dark clothes,broke away from a larger group ofanti-free-trade demonstratorsin the afternoon and headed away fromthe World Trade and Convention Centre, where the Atlantica conference is being held.
The protesters broke away from a larger, more peaceful group. ((Victoria Foley/CBC))

Some threw light bulbs filled with blue paint at police.Several officers and spectators, as well asthe rear window of onepolice cruiser, were hit.

A smaller group moved on to the public library on Spring Garden Road, where they wereagain confronted bypolice. As they marched forward, officers shouted for them to move back.

There was some pushing, and several people were arrested. Police said they used pepper spray only after the protesters used some kind of irritant on them.

Some protesters accused police of using a Taser gun on a man who was already on the ground.
Police say they used pepper spray only after the protesters sprayed them with some kind of irritant. ((Stephen Puddicombe/CBC))

"I didn't see the [Tasering], but I definitely heard the guy screaming, and I also saw some pepper spray," said Barrett Thompson, 23, who was walking by at the time.

Police later subdued and arrested several more protesters. A police spokeswoman said charges are pending.

Halifax police had been preparing for such an encounter. One group said it expected hundreds protesters outside the conference, and there were demonstrations last year when the Atlantica meeting was held in Saint John, N.B.

On Thursday, dozens of people chanted andbanged drums tooppose Nova Scotia Power's involvement in the conference.
Twenty people were arrested. ((Stephen Puddicombe/CBC News))

Variousbusiness groups from around the region are taking part in the meeting, whichpromotes the idea of a trade zone encompassing eastern Canada and the New England states.

But opponents say the plan to turn Atlantic Canada into a gateway forgoods fromAsiameans only cheaper energy and consumer items for Americans, and not economic development for the region.