Nova Scotia

Violent bar incident sparks Halifax complaint

Halifax police say they are investigating an alleged case of assault in front of an Argyle Street bar this weekend after a Halifax musician spoke out about a violent incident he witnessed.

Patron roughed up by bouncer, witness alleges

Halifax police say they are investigating an alleged case of assault in front of an Argyle Street bar this weekend after a Halifax musician spoke out about a violent incident he witnessed.

John Wesley Chisholm says he was at the Carleton Music Bar Saturday around midnight. He often plays there as a musician, but was there as a customer.

A young, drunk patron was involved in an exchange with another patron and a doorman ejected him.

"The doorman rough-handles him out the door. He gets belligerent, swings at the bouncer, and the bouncer beats him down on the street," Chisholm said Monday.

That sparked a "melee" with other patrons. Chisholm says the doorman "grabs him by the hair and beats his head over and over against the ground."

Excessive force?

Chisholm says a female friend of the patron's tried to stop the bouncer, but was shoved out of the way.

The police arrived and cuffed the patron before taking him home.

Chisholm said he felt the doorman used excessive force. He says he offered to make a statement to police, but that they declined to take it.

Chisholm says he tried to re-enter the bar, but the doorman told him he was banned.

The incident happened after midnight in the city centre. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

Chisholm, who works in television, wrote a Facebook post about the incident to generate a conversation. "I’m writing it because our streets are soaked with blood and people are dying. We have to speak out and we have to cause change," he says in the open letter.

He says it was the ordinariness of the incident that upset him most.

"I'm not around any kind of violence in my regular life and it's always really upsetting to see it," he told the CBC's Information Morning Monday. "It seems to have touched a nerve because so many people have shared my experience."

His post has been shared almost 2,000 times and attracted almost 600 comments.

Patron didn't want to lay charges

The Carleton says it has spoken to staff and is trying to figure out what happened. The bar confirmed the doorman, who has worked at the Carleton for four years, is no longer on the schedule

On Monday, Halifax police said they had assigned Supt. Sean Auld to look into the matter further. Auld is responsible for policing and public safety in the downtown core.

The force said officers will be interviewing everyone involved in the confrontation, but Auld said the patron didn't want to press charges.

"I spoke with him this morning and he was uninjured and doesn't wish any further charges and doesn't wish any further action on part of the police," said Auld.

The police superintendent said he's concerned about the "culture of alcohol consumption" in Halifax and says he is hoping the community will work with the police to help address the problem.

Chisholm says his concern isn't ultimately with this particular bar or experience, but with what he sees as a wider trend toward violence. His post produced some remedies, including licensing doormen, creating better communication with police and producing a "patrons' bill of rights."

Nova Scotia last discussed regulating bouncers in 2010. 

He also said he plans to return to the Carleton for lunch Monday to talk about the issue.