Nova Scotia

Halifax police commission urged to launch review of tent eviction response

Halifax's police commission has been asked to launch an independent review of the police department's role in last month's protest over the removal of tents and sheds in municipal parks.

Officers used pepper spray, arrested 24 people during Aug. 18 incident in city's downtown

Halifax police surround a shelter on Aug. 18 outside the old library on Spring Garden Road to keep protesters back. One protestor sat on the shelter roof for hours to prevent its removal. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

Halifax's police commission has been asked to launch an independent review of the police department's role in last month's protest over the removal of tents and sheds in municipal parks.

There was a tense standoff between officers and protesters in front of the former library on Spring Garden Road on Aug. 18, with police arresting 24 people and deploying pepper spray.

A petition calling for a review, and including more than 2,000 names, was submitted to the commission on Monday, but it was the first time that some members of the commission had seen it. They plan to discuss the request at their next meeting in October.

"I don't want it bumped any further than it already is," said Coun. Becky Kent. "I strongly support bringing it forward."

Police and protesters clash in downtown Halifax

12 months ago
Duration 1:20
Officers physically moved people back from one downtown site that drew a large protest, and pepper-sprayed the crowd.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella told the commission that department reviews about individual complaints were "ongoing." A number of officers on site were not wearing name tags, and some people at the protest said there were officers with controversial "thin blue patches" on their uniforms.

Kinsella said those patches are not approved and all members are supposed to wear name tags, but there could be an explanation for the lack of an ID.

"Whether they came to help from a different area, or are not generally in uniform," said Kinsella. "So we have to get all the information we can."

But Kinsella told the police commission that if the reviews lead to misconduct charges, they would be personnel issues that could not be discussed in public.

Coun. Lisa Blackburn asked about using numbers on uniforms instead of name tags, based on what is done in other jurisdictions. She said there could be safety issues with name tags, with officers potentially being targeted through social media, although she didn't elaborate or suggest it had happened in Halifax.

Kinsella said all options will be considered after getting feedback from the police union and the community.

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