NS RCMP say officers paid fee, took photo with ‘freedom fighters’ as de-escalation tactics

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RCMP are defending the actions of two officers shown posing in a picture with three people at a “freedom fighters” event in Nictaux, N.S., saying it was part of a plan to de-escalate the situation after they were called over noise complaints.

The picture, which is circulating widely on social media, shows the two officers standing between three of the group’s members, one of which is holding a $5 bill. Some commenters questioned why RCMP would take a photo with the group members and give money to them.

In a news release sent out Monday, RCMP said an officer gave the money to a group member after they were told to pay an entrance fee. The RCMP said the officer agreed as part of the de-escalation tactics.

One of the officers has a thin blue line patch on the front of his vest.

The controversial patch has a history of being associated with white supremacy and the symbol has been used by the Blue Lives Matter movement in the Unites States, which has grown in recent years to support police and as a counter-protest to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Police officers have come under fire for wearing the patch, which some have said is for remembering colleagues killed in the line of duty.

An example of a thin blue line patch is shown. The controversial patch has a history of being associated with white supremacy and the symbol has been used by the Blue Lives Matter movement in the Unites States, which has grown in recent years to support police and as a counter-protest to the Black Lives Matter movement. (Amazon)

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay said the officer wearing the thin blue line patch has removed it from his uniform and has been addressed by RCMP supervisors. No further action is expected on the part of the RCMP, he added.

Tremblay said the event was taking place near Highway 10 in Nictaux on Saturday night, where they found a gathering of more than 50 people in a nearby field.

Event details

The Freedom Fighters Nova Scotia Chapter Facebook page describes the gathering as a two-day camping event. A flyer promoting the event says a suggested donation of at least $5 was being collected for Rally Point Retreat, a facility in Sable River, N.S., that operates as a space for people dealing with trauma.

A spokesperson representing the freedom fighters group could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.

In a phone interview Monday, Tremblay said a large group of men gathered around the officers and told them police weren’t welcome. The pair then devised a plan to de-escalate the situation.

One officer spoke with a man who identified himself as the president of the Freedom Fighters to explain the noise laws, while the other calmed down the remaining attendees.

Entrance fee was paid from officer’s ‘personal funds,’ say RCMP

The music was turned down and the president gave his number to the officers. As the officers began to leave, a man said they didn’t pay the entry fee. Other members agreed, so one of the officers paid from his “personal funds,” Tremblay said.

The officers also agreed to take a photo with some attendees to “mitigate any escalation of the situation.”

Tremblay said the officers were in a remote area and were outnumbered.

“Given the fact that they’re trying to avoid [escalating] things from a noise complaint to a situation that could involve multiple arrests and violence … members acted quickly and [made] decisions they saw would keep them safe and would also keep the people attending safe that evening,” said Tremblay.


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Danielle Edwards

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