A 20-year-old man who appears to have suffered convulsions after being taken into custody for his involvement in an illegal march on Portage Avenue late Monday afternoon is facing charges of assaulting a peace officer.
Winnipeg police said officers attempted to corral the illegal march because the protesters had placed themselves in jeopardy by taking up two lanes of traffic.
Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Patrol Sgt. Wally Antoniuk said a video of the altercation posted online shows that responding officers acted in a measured way to get about 100 protestors off the street and out of harm’s way.
The protect marked the first anniversary of the world-wide Occupy Movement.
Antoniuk said police had arrested one man believed to be the leader of the illegal protest when it’s alleged the second man, who towered over the officers at the scene, pushed and shoved an officer.
The incident began with about 50 people marching past Portage Place at about 5:45 p.m., the one-year anniversary of the Occupy movement, when a police cruiser showed up and began pressing marchers to move onto the sidewalk.
Video taken of the event, posted at Ustream.tv, shows several police officers wading into a small crowd of marchers bearing signs.
Police can be heard asking who the leaders of the march are. "There are no leaders," one marcher replies.
An officer then takes one man by the arm and pushes him onto the sidewalk, against a garbage can, before appearing to take him under arrest. The crowd then gathers around police, chanting "shame on you" and "let him go."
Antoniuk said officers were swarmed by the protesters when the second man was arrested, adding the officers were encircled by the crowd who were chanting obscenities at them and making a lot of noise.
The second man was handcuffed and being led towards a police cruiser when he collapsed onto the sidewalk and appears to have gone into convulsions.
Antoniuk said an officer can be heard on the online video requesting an ambulance be rushed to the scene, adding that was the appropriate action the officer should have taken.
Antoniuk denied allegations that officers had Tasered the second man, adding that no Tasers were discharged at the scene.
The 20-year-old man was taken to hospital and later released.
Antoniuk said he faces charges of assaulting a peace officer and obstructing a peace officer. He was released on a promise to appear in court.
Antoniuk said the man believed to be the leader of the protest slipped away from police. He has not been identified and police are looking for him.
Ken Harasym, who was taking video of the rally, said the event was peaceful before, during and after the incident. It was not clear why the two men were arrested, he said. "It was a very calm protest," Harasym said. "No one was breaking anything, nobody was yelling obscenities... Everything remained peaceful, other than the massive amount of police cars following a peaceful protest."
The protest, dubbed Take Canada Back, was part of a nationwide series of rallies in opposition to Harper government policies.