Neil Magnuson is the man behind The Freedom Tour. For a second time in two years, he is rollerblading from Victoria, BC to Ottawa, Ontario to raise awareness about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and to educate police, politicians, and the public along the way about the failed policy of cannabis prohibition. Neil was assaulted by an RCMP officer, and it was caught on tape. Watch the video of the shocking unprovoked attack on YouTube.
Call the Vernon Local RCMP (250-545-7171) and Vernon’s Mayor Wayne Lippert (250-558-1644), and politely tell them you are disgusted by the unprovoked excessive brute force used against Neil Magnuson of The Freedom Tour on Monday, August 6th.
For photos of the Freedom Tour as it progresses, please see this thread in the Cannabis Culture Forums.
For discussion and updates from Neil and friends, please see this thread in the Cannabis Culture Forums.
The Vernon Morning Star wrote an article about Neil just before this incident took place, which can be read here.
UPDATE: The RCMP are caught lying to the media about what happened, but the truth was caught on video!
By Roger Knox, The Vernon Morning Star
The irony of the situation is not lost on Neil G. Magnuson.
Magnuson, a rights activist who made a stop in Vernon on his Freedom Tour 2007 rollerblade across the country to Ottawa, was the keynote speaker at a Peace and Awareness Rally in Polson Park Monday afternoon. The event ended with Magnuson being pepper-sprayed, and he and rally organizer Jack Elliman of Hemp City arrested by Vernon police.
“I’m a rights activist talking about abuse of power in our democracy, and it was illustrated well by local authorities,” said Magnuson on Tuesday, still recovering from being pepper-sprayed by police as he tried to prevent his friend, Elliman, from being arrested. “I was an illustration dummy to my point.”
The incident, which also involved Vernon bylaw officers, stemmed from where Elliman had parked his vehicle during the rally, and the fact Elliman had a number of outstanding traffic violations. Elliman had been given at least three verbal warnings by City of Vernon bylaw officers during the event to remove his and other vehicles from an emergency fire lane near the bandstand, site of the rally, which began at noon and featured bands and guest speakers. The warnings came over a two-hour period, according to Vernon police.
According to police, Elliman refused to move his car and ordered rally-goers not to comply. However, a video Elliman made available to Vernon media showed him in his car trying to leave the scene, but was prevented by bylaw officials and a tow truck driver, who was called to the scene, from doing so. The video shows the tow truck driver, called because of the outstanding infractions, reaching into Elliman’s car and taking his keys. This led to a confrontation with the tow truck operator, which, police say, sparked the ugliness that ensued.
Police say Elliman refused to exit his vehicle, and the bylaw officer requested urgent police back-up as the crowd was becoming unruly. Upon arrival, police arrested Elliman for physically obstructing the bylaw officer. At this point, Magnuson and a woman identified only as B.J. put bear hugs around Elliman, preventing police from making an arrest.
“The second male was arrested for obstruction and subsequently pepper-sprayed when he hung onto the first suspect, would not allow him to be taken into police custody and refused to comply with police directions,” said Vernon RCMP Cpl. Henry Proce.
The crowd, which police estimated at “somewhere between 20 and 40 people,” was yelling at the police to let go of Elliman and Magnuson, saying their use of force was unnecessary. The video shows police had Magnuson on the ground after he was pepper-sprayed with one officer’s knee on Magnuson’s neck and his face in the ground to prevent him from moving.
At least four RCMP officers attended the scene in order to keep the peace and keep the crowd at bay while the suspects were being arrested. Proce said it is not standard RCMP procedure to pepper-spray an individual if they don’t co-operate with police.
“In this case, this person had been placed under arrest, he was on the ground, had his arms tucked underneath him, refused to be handcuffed, the crowd was gathering and the officer felt he had no other option but to get this person restrained as quickly as possible, get him in his police car and get him out of there,” said Proce. “He warned that he would be pepper-sprayed and he did that.” (LIE! Watch the video – Neil is sprayed in the face as he’s hugging his friend, and then he’s wrestled to the ground and arrested!)
Elliman said Tuesday he was still in a state of shock over the whole incident. “I’m outraged as to how they treated us,” said Elliman, who confirmed he was given several warnings by the bylaw officer in question to move his vehicle, and confirmed the outstanding violations. “I told her that I was packing up and putting equipment in the car. I was the organizer and helping bands set up and take down. We had a permit, you’d expect that we could put our vehicles there. We did it last year. I told her I would move my vehicle. She parked in front of me and the tow truck driver reached in and took my keys, then I saw the cops rush in.”
Magnuson said public servants are “oblivious to what it means to be a public servant.”
“They’re seen as bullies and they act as bullies, unfortunately, in too many cases,” said Magnuson.
Proce commended the actions of the police officers. “We get these two folks out of there, the crowd has become increasingly unruly and agitated, definitely anti-police, we get the usual obscenities thrown at us,” said Proce. “I’m quite proud of the way our members acted. They showed a great deal of restraint considering the verbal abuse that they were under.”
Police will be submitting a report to Crown counsel, requesting both Elliman and Magnuson be charged with obstruction of justice and resisting arrest. Elliman and Magnuson say they are contemplating legal channels of recourse.
Article from The Vernon Morning Star
By Neil Magnuson, on August 7th:
Towards the end of what had been a great rally in Vernon the by-law people arrived and started ticketing the cars owned by venders and organizers, parked against the curb by the bandstand. There was no reason for the tickets and the by-law woman was very disrespectful and on a mission to disrupt our event, which she did.
You could have driven two emergency vehicles down that park road side by side no problem. There was no blockage of the road whatsoever, except by the bylaw people’s cars that were blocking the road.
The woman (by-law officer Anita) then announced that Jack had unpaid parking tickets and she was calling a tow truck; meanwhile Jack’s almost finished loading his car and will be gone before they can tow him. She then tries to block Jack’s car in and tells her partner to lock the gate so Jack can’t leave.
The tow truck arrives and tries to back up to Jack’s car with him in it and the motor running. I position myself in between the tow truck and the car; Anita then grabs my arm and my shirt and yanks me out of the way. I inform her that she has just assaulted me and I’m calling the police, but she has just called them too.
I assume everything will soon be resolved, and Jack will be able to drive away. Meanwhile the tow truck driver has reached into Jack’s car and pulled out his keys, WHILE HE WAS BACKING UP! The RCMP arrive and I immediately try to explain the situation, but the cop ignores me and goes straight for Jack and starts handcuffing him just as he is getting out of his car.
I hug Jack and try to explain that Jack does not deserve handcuffs, and that we should just talk about what was going on. Another girl hugs Jack and the police officer and ANITA THE BYLAW person go to work to seperate us. Within moments I’m pepper sprayed and thrown to the ground in a brutal attack. I was repeatedly pepper sprayed and brutalized while not wanting to be cuffed.
I yelled that I had done nothing wrong would hurt no one and did not agree to being handcuffed while being subjected to knees and batons on my neck, head, and back, as well as knuckles to the soft spots of my head. I had finally had enough and allowed them to handcuff me and take me away.
On the way to the station I explained to officer Hampton that his actions were extremely inappropriate and uncalled for. I was released within the hour, as well as Jack, with no charges laid against us.
I spent until aproximately 1:30am in the hospital. I have a compressed nerve in my left arm (very little feeling from my elbow to the tips of my thumb and index fingers), my eyes are still stinging, my head hurts in many places, as well as my back, neck, shoulders and arms.
The peace and freedom rally was great, and our points were very well illustrated by the local authorities in the end! We will spend an extra couple days now in Vernon before Shambhalla (festival in Kaslo, BC), taking care of business with the mayor and chief of police.