Police arrest a protester during the eviction of Occupy NS on Nov. 11 (Video Still: Nicolas Bergeron)

Occupy N.S. arrestees shed light on arrest circumstances

There is plenty of footage on YouTube that shows Halifax Regional Police aggressively arresting protestors during the eviction of Occupy Nova Scotia in Halifax on Nov. 11. But not all of the arrestees met with rough justice.

James Wiseman and John Thibeau were among the 14 arrested at Victoria Park shortly after Remembrance Day ceremonies. Wiseman claims his arrest was brutal, but Thibeau, one of the main resisters, was surprised by his light treatment from police.

Although both men have been banned from entering municipal, provincial and federal parks in the Halifax Regional Municipality, they continue to meet outside Grand Parade Square for the Occupy General Assembly every evening at 7 p.m. They discussed their arrests on Wednesday night. 

Wiseman has taken a leading media role in the Occupy N.S. movement since day one. 

“I wanted to have an actual affect on this movement instead of just being a bystander,” the 29-year-old chef says. “I wanted to link the online community and the onsite community together.” 

Wiseman posts daily videos of the movement on his YouTube channel, where he has about 1,000 subscribers. He covers meetings, rallies and other Occupy events while providing commentary on them all. 

“I’ve pretty much been spreading my Occupy movement videos around the world, on the Facebook groups,” he says. Since the movement began, his total video views have surpassed 100,000.

Wiseman filmed the initial arrests with his smart phone, and accused the police of breaking the law while doing so. They continuously told him to back off, some pushing him out of the way, but this didn’t deter him. 

He continued to film, but was outraged when he allegedly saw a police officer put an underage girl in a chokehold, and moved in to try and stop him. He claims another police officer saw this, put him in a chokehold and pushed him to the ground. 

Wiseman was released several hours after being detained. He lodged a formal complaint against the police force on Nov. 16. 

The other end of the spectrum 

John Thibeau’s involvement in the Occupy N.S. movement has been increasing since it began in mid-Oct. He initially showed support by participating in protests and rallies but didn’t plan on camping out. After hearing a call for volunteers with medical training, he decided to step up to the task, as he is both First Aid and CPR certified.  

He’s also been working with the media group, and was partially responsible for safety and security while the tents were still up. 

“If it needs to be done, I’m pretty much able to help out in some way,” the 30-year-old says. He lives on employment insurance while volunteering with the movement. 

During the eviction, Thibeau and five other protestors took a stand and sat down on one of the tents as police were trying to remove it. 

“We felt they didn’t have the right on a number of different grounds,” he says. “The person who the tent belonged to wasn’t on site, and wasn’t there to receive an eviction notice.” 

So they sat on the ground, interlocking arms and wrists to form a tight group they hoped the police wouldn’t be able to pull apart. Officers warned them that they would be charged with obstruction of justice if they didn’t move, but they stayed put. 

Thibeau was released at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning after being detained for 13 hours. 

Both men have been charged with obstruction of justice and are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 29. Because their cases are still before the courts, police were unable to comment on their allegations. 

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Nice piece Nic - I think it was only 5 protesters total on the tent - but no biggie.

Posted by Bill McEwen | Nov 18, 2021