NCA member injured during campaign altercation in Truro
TRURO, N.S. – The chief agent of the National Citizens Alliance (NCA) required hospital treatment after being “sucker punched” and kicked in the face during a campaign stop in Truro, the party leader says.
And Steve Garvey now accuses the Truro Police Service of negligence because of the incident that occurred last Friday evening at the Civic Square, when he and other NCA members came to town to hold a “peaceful” campaign.
“They actually allowed the altercation. You could argue they were negligent in their duty,” Garvey told the Truro News. “And then they came rushing in after there was violence. By then it was too late, someone was already hurt. So, this is quite concerning.”
A Youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tin9vksvcmy) of the event shows a man, who Garvey identified as chief agent Adrien Bordage, being confronted and then knocked to the ground during the event. By that point, it had essentially become a shouting match between NCA members and a small group of protesters, one of whom had his face masked.
“Adrian suffered a concussion. He was sucker punched in his jaw... in his mouth area,” Garvey said, of Bordage, 62. “He fell to the ground and then this guy booted him in the face. And he’s wearing these army boots.”
Garvey said he was told by a police officer that he could be charged with trespassing for using the Civic Square for their political purposes without a permit.
“It’s pretty awful what happened to our chief agent,” he said. “We don’t want to cause problems for people. But when they are denying us our constitutional rights, we are going to speak up.”
At least some of the protesters are believed to be members of an anti-facist group from Halifax.
Truro Police Inspector Rob Hearn said officers were on hand when the incident occurred. People are permitted to protest peacefully, he said, and until an altercation actually broke out, they were simply there to monitor the situation.
“The police typically don’t get involved unless there is a problem,” he said.
Hearn added police have access to videos taken during the event and the matter remains under investigation.
“A lot of people disagree with his views but the police are impartial,” Hearn said. “We don’t take sides, that’s not what we do. You can disagree with him but, if he is the victim of a crime or his people are the victim of a crime, we take that very seriously.”
Garvey also took issue with Truro town officials, whom he said are attempting to censor NCA activities by not allowing them to campaign on public property.
“We didn’t even bring a megaphone. We went there strictly from the standpoint of campaigning,” he said. “And under the Elections Act, during the campaign period, we have the right to access any public space for campaigning peacefully.”
On that issue, town CAO Mike Dolter partly agreed. “I disagree that we are required to allow them. Can we stop them from being there?” Dolter said. “I would say he’s probably correct that we can’t stop them, because it is a public space.”
But he said the town has specific policies in place based on information contained in the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.
Anyone wanting to book the space has to sign an agreement that their activities follow those guidelines.
“Some of the research we have done with the NCA indicated there was reason for concern about some of their activities,” he said.
“The other thing, too, with Civic Square, we have usage agreements that basically says it won’t be used for political activities.”
Dolter said the Civic Square had been booked since last March for both Sept. 13 and 14 by the Embrace Festival. While it may not have appeared to Garvey that the square was in use, Dolter said last Friday was booked as a set-up date for the festival and a tent had been erected onsite for that purpose.
And Dolter said the NCA was never actually denied use of the square because, to his knowledge, no formal application had been made.
But in response to a request for protection from the NCA, which had been anticipating issues with protestors prior to the event, Dolter said additional police officers were put in place for Friday evening.
“We try to maintain neutrality,” he said.