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(en) Canada, HALIFAX , Media, Anticapitalist free trade protesters and self-styled anarchists in anti G8 action

Date Sat, 16 Jun 2007 16:33:03 +0300

A rowdy group of anti-free trade protesters and self-styled anarchists - all of them clad in black - clashed with police at several locations in downtown Halifax on Friday, causing a handful of injuries and prompting 20 arrests.
Police used pepper spray to subdue several demonstrators and electric stun guns on three people after some protesters started hurling golf-ball-size paintballs and bottles at police, the media and local businesses. Some were checked by paramedics, but police spokeswoman Theresa Brien said no one required hospital treatment. The arrests followed a largely peaceful march to Halifax City Hall, where about 200 protesters denounced a conference on Atlantica, a concept that promotes enhanced trade between Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States. As the march concluded, about 60 protesters - some of whom described themselves as members of the "Black Bloc" - broke off from the main group.
Some wore goggles, bicycle helmets bandannas and balaclavas to cover their faces. Others carried black flags and plastic garbage can lids, which they used as shields when police moved in.
After the protest moved away from city hall, the demonstration turned violent on Spring Garden Road, a popular shopping district on the south edge of the downtown core.
"They were throwing objects, including bottles and paintballs, they broke our plate glass windows on Spring Garden Road and they damaged police vehicles," said Brien, who confirmed charges were pending.
Bystander Greg Hatt said he was near Halifax's downtown library when more clashes erupted.
"The cops took them down all around me," he said. "I was just sitting in the middle of it."
Hart said he could hear the energized stun guns as police wrestled with protesters.
"You could hear them - it was crackling in the air like crickets. It was surreal."
Protester Michael Hoyle said he saw some people throwing paint bombs and rocks at the TD Bank on Spring Garden.
"The cops were a little agitated by this. Basically, they were pushing people back, people were still throwing rocks, throwing bombs. The police at one point just snapped and started pepper spraying people."
Brien defended the police response to the demonstration.
"We applied a very measured response and escalated our force as necessary," she added. "We respect everyone's right to protest peacefully and lawfully but are forced to take action when people take criminal activity."
Brien said one officer was struck in the head by an unknown object and another was overcome by an unknown "chemical irritant," as was one protester.
Tracy Glynn, 29, an anti-Atlantica protester from Fredericton, said police went too far.
"The police overreacted in some cases," she said. "One guy fell down the stairs earlier and they arrested him."
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