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Mine opponent arrested at Atlantic Gold meeting sues company, RCMP officer


John Perkins being removed from Atlantic Gold information session.
John Perkins being removed from Atlantic Gold information session.

An Earltown man who was forced to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by RCMP at an Atlantic Gold public meeting in May is fighting back.

John Perkins has filed a lawsuit against Atlantic Gold Corporation, Terry Moser, Dustin O’Leary, Maryse Belanger, Const. Justin Greene and the attorney general of Canada, alleging he suffered injury, loss and damage as a result of the May 23 incident.

Brian Hebert of McKiggan Hebert Lawyers, who is to represent Perkins, filed documents with Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.

“I feel strongly that it is my duty to hold them accountable for the injuries and harm they have done to me and to do what I can to stop this from happening again,” Perkins said at a news conference in Halifax on Tuesday morning.

On May 23, Perkins attended a public information session on a proposed open pit gold mine near St. Mary’s River, put on by Atlantic Gold at the fire hall in Sherbrooke.

Perkins claimed he was told to leave by Moser, security manager for Atlantic Gold, at the beginning of the session. Moser, who didn’t identify himself, said the RCMP would be called if he didn’t leave.

Perkins stayed put, resulting in Belanger, Atlantic Gold’s chief operating officer, to instruct Moser to make a “false and malicious” 911 call, the claim states.

Greene, the responding RCMP officer, “choose not to conduct any investigation at all and instead approached John and told him to leave the fire hall,” the claim said.

In a video captured by Scott Beaver, Perkins stands, raises his hands and backs away from the officer, who advises Perkins he’s “obstructing a police officer.”

Greene then pushes Perkins to the door. Perkins grabs the door frame, and the officer tells Perkins he’s resisting arrest.

In the video, Perkins is heard yelling “they’re too tight” about the handcuffs, and then he is shoved to the ground.

At the time, Atlantic Gold spokesman O’Leary said in a statement Perkins was requested to leave the meeting three times, refused, and became confrontational with the RCMP officer.

But at the meeting, Belanger denied she told those opposed to the mine to leave.

“They called the RCMP to silence me, to prevent me from asking any critical questions that would be heard by fellow Nova Scotians attending the meeting,” Perkins said.

Perkins was released from custody two hours later without charges.

He suffered nerve damage to his wrist, a wrist sprain, contusions, other soft tissue injuries, loss of reputation and emotional and mental suffering during the incident, the claim states.

“I felt humiliated, powerless and scared,” Perkins said Tuesday.

“Now I am angry.”

Perkins filed a complaint with Nova Scotia RCMP at the start of June.

“They contacted Mr. Perkins as part of the investigation, but we haven’t been advised of any formal resolution at this stage,” Hebert said.

Hebert said Perkins’ claim is for compensation, vindication and deterrence.

“In our system of law you can’t put people back to where they were before it all happened. You can’t take away what happened,” Hebert said.

Perkins is suing for special, general, aggravated and punitive damages, as well as legal costs.

RCMP spokeswoman Jennifer Clarke said a complaint has been made to the RCMP regarding the May 23 incident, but wouldn’t comment further.

St. Barbara Limited, the Australian gold mining company that recently acquired Atlantic Gold, said in an emailed statement it “respects Mr. Perkins’ right to explore all legal avenues available to him, but as this is a proceeding with the courts, our company will have no further comment on this case until it is resolved.”

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