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Man at house demolition standoff down from roof, arrested

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A man who stood atop his house in an effort to protest its demolition has been arrested.

Ed Ackerman is accused of attacking a worker who was charged with demolishing the house on the 400 block of Bannatyne Avenue.

"The incident on Bannatyne has been resolved peacefully, the male from the roof is currently in police custody and the roadway should be cleared soon," said Winnipeg Police Constable Jeffrey Norman in a news release about 4:15 p.m.

Ackerman, who has had several disagreements with the city regarding the safety of his residences, confronted Imrie Demolition employees when they arrived at the dwelling, and that's when the disagreement escalated.

"He started throwing a couple glass blocks at us; just missed my brother and another one of our workers," said Ward Imrie, whose family business was assigned to the demotion and knows Ackerman through previous jobs. "One (of the glass blocks) went through the machine window… so we called 'er a day."

No one from the company was hurt in the attack. Imrie said the glass blocked "just grazed" the head of his brother Jordan, who was wearing a hard hat at the time of the incident.

"I’ve never seen anything quite like this before – this is a first for me," offered Jordan, who said Ackerman was about 10 feet away from him when the block was thrown in his direction.

"He was throwing blocks at everybody. He had no regard for anybody’s safety."

While Imrie "called it a day," City of Winnipeg workers, who were on hand to oversee the demolition, called police to help detain Ackerman.

Ackerman went up to the roof of the house, and police cordoned off the street, leading to a bizarre standoff, during which Ackerman was seen walking around on the roof of the house.

Earlier this morning, crews demolished Ackerman's other derelict property on Frances Street. Both were slated for demolition after Ackerman did not comply with city orders to fix up his property. A judge dismissed Ackerman's bid for an injunction.

City spokeswoman Michelle Bailey confirmed Ackerman's house and garage at 94 Frances St. were torn down by 11 a.m. today.

In December, Ackerman asked the court for an injunction to stop the city from tearing down the houses. In court documents, City of Winnipeg officials said there are serious structural problems with both of the homes, and Ackerman hasn't followed any orders to bring them up to standards.

Bailey said the city followed all the proper processes to deal with both properties, and police are handling the current situation.

"Once there was a situation we got police involved and we're waiting for them to do what they need to do before (demolition crews) proceed further," Bailey said.

Police called in the tactical support team and a crisis negotiator to try and bring the situation to a peaceful resolution.

Ackerman, an artist and animator, was the owner of the famous "Alphabet House" before the city tore it down the derelict structure in 2010. As there was at "Alphabet House," there was a film crew on hand at the Bannatyne residence to document the protest Tuesday.

Officers at the scene were not sure if Ackerman was putting on an act for the cameras, or if it was a legitimate attempt to save his building.

"When he got onto the roof or when he chose (to go on the roof) – that I don’t know," said police spokesman Const. Jeffrey Norman. "Upon police arrival, he was on the roof."

The standoff and block closure caused a significant disruption to the area.

Victoria-Albert School, which sits less than a block away from the house, was noticeably quiet during the lunch hour. A sign reading "The school is in lockup" was held up from inside as reporters approached the school.

-- with files from Jen Skerritt

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History

Updated on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM CST: corrects typo, adds photo

2:35 PM: Updates with more information on owner of house

3:22 PM: Updated.

4:19 PM: Adds that man is down from roof

4:29 PM: Updates with full writethru

4:40 PM: updates video

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