Halifax police pepper spray a child at eviction demonstration

The girl’s father was also pepper sprayed by police

Graig Graziosi
Friday 20 August 2021 22:08
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Credit: Zane Woodford/The Halifax Examiner

Police in Halifax, Nova Scotia are facing criticism after they pepper sprayed a 10 year-old girl while breaking up a protest protecting an encampment of people experiencing homelessness.

On Wednesday, a large group of protesters lined up outside the site of a library on Spring Garden Road near downtown Halifax to prevent police from dismantling a camp where people experiencing homelessness had erected tents and temporary shelter.

Police began arresting protesters, which prompted demonstrators to surround police cars to prevent them from taking the detained people away from the site.

At that point, police began pepper spraying the crowd. One of the individuals in the fray was a 10 year-old girl who wound up being shoved and sprayed.

Georgie Fagan, the father of the little girl, told The Halifax Examiner's Zane Woodford, who was present at the protest, that he and his daughter had not set out that day to participate in the demonstration but got caught up in the confrontation.

According to Mr Fagan, he and his daughter were out for a walk in the area when the father spotted a friend who was participating in the demonstration. The father and daughter decided to stay to listen to some of the speeches and watch the protest when tensions escalated between the police and the demonstrators.

The father decided that he wanted to leave the area, but a road closure forced him and his daughter back onto the street where the protest was happening.

“I was trying to get out of there, but it was impossible when everybody was running and screaming and going, ‘Let him loose, let him go’ and all this kind of stuff,” Mr Fagan told The Halifax Examiner.

According to Mr Fagan, police were trying to push the crowd back when one of them pushed his daughter.

"I went off, I snapped," Mr Fagan said. "I don't care who you are, I don't care if you're the prime minister, if you grab my kid I'm going to snap on you."

In a video of the incident Mr Fagan and the little girl, who was not named, can be seen in the moments after the pepper spray is deployed. The little girl can be seen wiping at her face and grabbing for her father.

Another protester helps her off the street. Her father yells out "You maced my f****** kid!"

The police responded by pepper spraying him and also pepper spraying another protester who was trying to help his daughter.

“I couldn’t see my daughter,” he said. “Thank god for the people that took my daughter, helped her and brought her and did the things she did. Praise god for that because you know what, there are some kind people out there.”

The video footage shows a group of protesters gathering to wash out the little girl's eyes.

The Halifax Regional Police Chief, Dan Kinsella, defended the use of pepper spray at the protest, claiming that officers were being assaulted. Mr Woodford, who attended the protest, reported that Mr Kinsella was not actually present at the demonstration.

After both Mr Fagan and his daughter received treatment from paramedics, the father went to Halifax city hall to demand to speak with the mayor. The mayor, Mike Savage, met with Mr Fagan and took down his number.

Since the incident occurred, Mr Fagan has been taking criticism from online commenters calling him a bad parent for taking his child to the protest.

He rejects those claims and said that children should be exposed to protests "to understand what the hell was going on in our community, what's going on with our homelessness, what's going on with their government, what's going on with our policing."

By the end of the protest, Halifax police had arrested more than 10 people and eventually tore down the tents and temporary shelters at the encampment.

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