Winnipeg police rapped for counter protest detainments

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The Winnipeg Police Service is under fire for what NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine called “hypocrisy” in detaining two Indigenous counter-protesters at the anti-mandate demonstration outside the legislature.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/02/2022 (289 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Police Service is under fire for what NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine called “hypocrisy” in detaining two Indigenous counter-protesters at the anti-mandate demonstration outside the legislature.

“The moment that citizens stand up against the weeks on end of hate, misinformation, entitlement and casual sedition, the first person that’s arrested or detained is an Indigenous person, who’s taking up space on our own land,” Fontaine said in an interview with the Free Press Sunday.

“It’s the differential treatment (of Indigenous people), it’s the hypocrisy of it all and it’s turning a blind eye — by the premier — to what’s really going on here.”

Winnipeg police officers kept the counter protesters and the anti-mandate protesters separate during the rally at the Manitoba Legislature Saturday. But the Winnipeg Police Service is under fire for detaining two Indigenous counter-protesters under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act. (David Lipnowski / Winnipeg Free Press files)

On the north side of a police line Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered between parked semi-trucks and tractors in the middle of Broadway and Memorial Boulevard. Protesters held signs calling for the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in solidarity with the “freedom convoy,” in tandem with demonstrations nationwide.

On the other side, a similarly sized group of counter-protesters called on the group to pack up and leave; many of them residents who were fed up with the noise and slowed traffic in the area for more than a week.

Amid the tense demonstrations, city police officers detained two people under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act “for their safety” due to traffic concerns, police said in a statement Saturday.

The individuals were taken to a residence where they were turned over to friends. Neither were charged, police said.

Those detainments led to widespread criticism on social media, including from St. Johns MLA Fontaine and NDP Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazen.

“After days of the Winnipeg’s occupation inflicting sonic torture and harassment on our community with no arrests or fines, the police decide to arrest a lone Indigenous protester attending the counter protest for public intoxication citing safety reasons?” Gazan wrote on Twitter.

A Winnipeg police spokesman said he could not provide further comment on the matter Sunday.

Videos of police officers apprehending an Indigenous protester holding a sign while standing in front of a vehicle equipped with a Canadian flag near the intersection of Broadway and Osborne Street North made the rounds on social media Saturday. “Prove that they’re intoxicated. Prove it,” says one person in a video of an arrest.

“It’s the differential treatment (of Indigenous people), it’s the hypocrisy of it all and it’s turning a blind eye — by the premier — to what’s really going on here,” said NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Police had initially allowed the counter demonstrators who were later detained to block vehicles on Broadway for about an hour, but they moved away from the main protest site to Osborne Street North, where police weren’t controlling traffic, the Free Press was told Sunday.

The anti-mandate demonstrators, meanwhile, are still camped out.

— with files from Maggie Macintosh

erik.pindera@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @erik_pindera

Erik Pindera

Erik Pindera
Reporter

Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.

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