May 28, 2006

Fredericton Solidarity Across Borders March and Rally: Organizers, Independent Media Arrested

Fredericton Canada
At approximately 3:00pm on Saturday May 27th, three immigrants rights protesters and one independent journalist were arrested at a peaceful demonstration on Queen Street in Fredericton. Asaf Rashid, Chris Erb, Duane Rouselle, and Theresa Taylor were all arrested for “failure to disperse”. One independent media journalist was arrested with video and photos of the days events. There are reports of excessive force being used on the arrestees.

The detainees have just been released (3:40pm) with minor fines and with one person experiencing minor injuries. The camera was recovered. When asked to give a reason for the arrest, one officer responded “Do you think I need a reason?” Officers refused to give badge numbers or reveal their identities. None of the arrestees were read their rights. Rashid was struck in his ribs, thrown to the ground and hand cuffed and then “slapped on his ass”, recounts one witness. “Next time I ask you to leave you better fucking leave”, said one officer. After being thrown into the police van all arrestees were taken to the police station. Rashid was interrogated about the event and his nationality. Others were asked standard questions for the purpose of writing up the fine.

The rally began at 1:00pm at Queen’s Square Park where 30 plus protesters enjoyed free food, soccer, Frisbee and speeches from refugees, organizers and activists. Protesters marched from Queen’s Square park to City Hall whilst being harassed by police along the way. Once at City Hall protesters were harassed by one of the Commissionaires, ranting about tourists, who then contacted police. "I get paid to keep people like you away from city hall for the tourists." The unidentified Commissionaire was very persistent with convincing the police to break up the rally.

After much discussion with the commissionaire police approached the crowd and demanded they disperse. Protesters explained to police that they were preparing to disperse. Once questioned about the validity of the command to disperse by one independent media journalist protesters were unlawfully arrested without having their rights read to them.


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