Opinion and analysis of the May 15 “rally” and the mainstream media reports.
On May 14th, Premier Iain Rankin revealed that provincial lawyers obtained an injunction from Justice Scott Norton of the supreme court of Nova Scotia to put a halt to the planned World-Wide Freedom Rally- Halifax that was planned for May 15th. In a news briefing he said that this would give extra authority to police to arrest and detain anyone breaking protocols.
HRP had released two statements on May 15th in response to two separate illegal gatherings. In HRP’s first statement we’re told that multiple charges and arrests were made at both gatherings under the Health Protection Act. The second statement explains that a combined 21 tickets and multiple arrests were made at the gatherings; one on Citadel Hill and another around Inglis and Tower Road. Neither of these statements make mention of Freedom Nova Scotia or the FreePalestine covid safe car rally by name. However the first statement does link to the Nova Scotia government page talking about the injunction stating it was granted to put a stop to the anti-lockdown protest. While Freedom rally organizers were specifically mentioned, a quick read of the injunction will tell you that it’s for all illegal gatherings.
The media also didn’t miss a chance to twist the facts. They used the statements from HRP, combining the tickets and arrests of both gatherings, and made it appear that it was only the Citadel Hill protestors being ticketed and arrested. Here are just a few examples:
CBC = “A handful of people not wearing masks gathered in the area between the entrance to the fortress and the clock tower on Saturday afternoon.” Well CBC, did you take a look at the other side of the hill? Probably not, because then you would have seen that there were just as many, if not more, people without masks hanging out on the hill on a beautiful day. Both sides of the hill held people enjoying the sun, separated by more than 6 feet in the household bubbles, and NOT wearing masks which are not mandated outdoors if distancing can be maintained. The main difference was that the protest side did not contain larger groups of over 5 people but the non-protest side did. So what exactly was the threat in protesting?
“Halifax police made five arrests and laid charges at separate gatherings in the city on Saturday.” Looks like CBC is privy to more information than the HRP Chief, who wasn’t sure but thought maybe there were 5 arrests.
CBC also included the Halifax Free Palestine rally in an article on National rallies held yesterday. They did include the police statement saying that “Significant police resources were tied up clearing the traffic backlog,” they also included that the organizers had made public requests for covid protocols to be maintained. Why didn’t Freedom Nova Scotia get that same respect?
CTV = Aired a two and a half minute clip lumping all the arrests and tickets from both rally’s in one number: 21 tickets and multiple arrests. Of the 2-minute and 40-second clip, only 1-minute and 9-seconds were about the rally. Of that 1:09 the first 31-seconds were Bruce Frisko telling his viewers about how the people in attendance broke public health measures. But yet, there was nothing about the other side of the hill. And while the written article did name both rallies, Allan April fails to mention that people attending both rallies were in violation of the injunction.
Global = The under 2 minute clip from Global shows the smallest section of protestors but stops before showing the rest of the crowd. At the 0:10 mark the reporter claims that the protestors were calling into question the science around covid-19. The then video shows a man in handcuffs being put into a police van* and you can hear someone in the background yelling “gonna go home to your kids and tell em what you did today? How patriotic it was?” What the Global reporter doesn’t want you to know is that the voice of the person yelling, that they didn’t show on video, was a protestor yelling at the Police, not the man in handcuffs.
*The man in handcuffs was not being arrested. He was placed in the Police van, given a ticket, and released on scene.
So here’s what I saw. Walking up to Citadel Hill, on the Public Gardens side, there were many people gathered in relatively small groups but still distanced enjoying the beautiful day with friends as they should be. As I walked up the hill I saw more and more police cars with police gathered next to the guard rail. I saw about the same amount of people gathered on this side of the hill but over a much larger area. In much the same way they were socially distanced and enjoying the sun. This is the side of the hill I stayed on. Wherever people were “gathered” to chat everyone made sure to maintain a 6 foot distance. Every so often people would engage with police, and while distances were maintained, opinions would become heated and the protestor would be handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle while a ticket was written. The person would be be released on scene moments later with instruction to leave. While it seems that some arrests were made, or at least were attempted, this was largely not the case. Most people were placed in handcuffs and taken to Police vehicles only long enough to have a ticket written and then they were released on scene and told to go home.
All of the mainstream coverage of Saturday’s events in Halifax painted the gathering on Citadel Hill as breaking protocols and being the only one one in violation of the court injunction. Freedom Nova Scotia was not given any credit for having also made a public statement requesting that all covid meaures be adhered to.
If the purpose of the court injunction was to make illegal gatherings actually illegal because these gatherings are unsafe and don’t follow protocols; what protocols did these people break? And how was this side of the hill in violation but the other, non-protest side, not? How does any of this make logical sense?