Members of the controversial National Citizens Alliance group were assaulted in Halifax on Saturday, leading to two arrests and several charges being laid, police say.
The federal fringe party, which is campaigning for strict cuts in foreign aid and immigration, had scheduled a rally in Grand Parade for Saturday afternoon. But members of a group calling itself Halifax Against Hate stymied the alliance’s efforts twice, according to a Halifax Regional Police media release.
At about 10 a.m., 150 to 200 members of the Halifax Against Hate group showed up at Grand Parade preparing for a counter rally. Police said the first clash happened at about noon after four alliance members arrived at the square to set up for their afternoon rally.
Police responded but were unable to keep the peace. A 34-year-old Halifax man allegedly assaulted an alliance member and was charged with breach of the peace.
“Around the same time, a large number of protesters took to the streets,” police said in the release. “Multiple patrol officers responded to Grand Parade to restore order and separate the two groups. Shortly after, all involved left the area."
The second clash came at 2:52 p.m., after alliance members returned to Grand Parade and made another attempt to start the rally.
"Halifax Against Hate group returned (wearing masks) and swarmed the National Citizens Alliance members," the release said.
“One man wearing a mask ripped a sign and took it with him, while other unknown persons assaulted the National Citizens Alliance."
A police officer was also swarmed and used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. The protesters eventually left without further incidents.
Police charged another 28-year-old man from Halifax with unlawful assembly, mischief property damage and theft under $5,000.
The man was treated by paramedics for pepper spray. No other injuries were reported, police said.
The alliance party issued a statement on its Facebook page Saturday condemning the violence.
“We are grateful to the Halifax police for their service, in particular the woman police officer who intervened by herself and arrested the violators," the statement said. "In a free and democratic society, there must be tolerance for different perspectives within the bounds of the law.”