By Richard Bell
As the June issue of the Cooperator was heading to the printers, we got word that an RCMP officer had violently arrested a local environmentalist who was attending a public meeting that Atlantic Gold had called in Sherbrooke on Thursday, May 23 to do a presentation on the disposal of mine tailings, the massive amounts of material left over after gold has been extracted from the pulverized rock. The failure of tailings dams at mining sites around the world has been the cause of massive environmental damage and the deaths of people living downstream from the tailings dams.
The RCMP put out the following statement on what happened:
May 24, 2019, Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia . . . At 5 p.m. on May 23, Sherbrooke RCMP responded to a 911 call indicating police assistance was required at a public meeting due to several persons causing a disturbance. An RCMP officer attended where a man was identified as one of the persons responsible. Despite repeated warnings to leave, the man refused and then resisted the officer’s attempt to arrest. The man was eventually controlled, handcuffed and later released without charge.
Accounts by other members of the audience, and the videos that audience members have already put online of this event, contradict significant elements of the RCMP’s statement. As it happens, the man whom the RCMP ended up arresting was John Perkins, who belongs to a grassroots environmental group, Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia.
The videos are deeply disturbing. As we discuss in another story in this issue, the Australian mining firm St. Barbara just bought Atlantic Gold. Even the briefest Google search reveals that St. Barbara has had serious environmental problems in the past. There were senior Atlantic Gold officials in the room when this incident took place.
Joan Baxter, who has written several articles recently on the gold industry for the Halifax Examiner, witnessed the entire event. According to her account in today’s Halifax Examiner, Perkins was held for two hours and released without being charged; at the hospital, Perkins learned that he had suffered a sprained wrist and some nerve damage from the overly tight handcuffs.
We will have further information on this story on the Cooperator’s Facebook site.