The mayor of New Glasgow, N.S., has been charged with assault following an alleged incident at a Black Lives Matter event in the Pictou County town nearly a year ago.
Nancy Dicks is expected to enter a plea on the charge on Sept. 14.
The charge was laid by Cape Breton Regional Police. The department was asked to investigate an incident that allegedly took place in New Glasgow on Sept. 27, 2020.
The incident involves Angela Bowden, a writer, speaker and activist who grew up in New Glasgow and is the author of Unspoken Truth: Unmuted and Unfiltered, a collection of poetry that explores the intergenerational pain of Black descendants of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
In an interview with CBC News, Bowden said she was taking part in a Black Lives Matter event involving local youth and was sitting at a picnic table when she was approached by Dicks.
'There has be some kind of accountability'
After a brief conversation, Bowden said the mayor grabbed her leg and shouted, "Now you listen here."
The allegations have not yet been tested in court.
"There has be some kind of accountability for your behaviour," said Bowden. "I don't deserve to support an event and be assaulted and be told to get back in my place."
Bowden said she waited until after the municipal elections were over in October 2020 and then tried unsuccessfully to meet with Dicks. She said she was hoping for an apology and a meeting mediated by a third party to discuss the mayor's actions.
Bowden said she spoke with a few councillors about the issue in the following months. In May, shortly after informing the council she would go public about the incident, Bowden says she received letters from town council and the mayor.
In the mayor's letter, Dicks said she was "deeply troubled" by the interaction and expressed regret.
"I believe we can move forward from this incident in a productive way to put this behind us for the benefit of all the people of New Glasgow," Dicks wrote in the May 5 letter, which Bowden shared with CBC News.
"I hope you will see this message as a bridge between us so that we can return to more positive relations that I believe we have had in the past."
Dicks staying on as mayor
In a second letter, deputy mayor Fred El-Haddad said a code of conduct complaint was brought forward to the town's CAO on Dec. 16, 2020, and that council discussed the matter on three occasions.
"During discussions with council, the mayor offered to take corrective action by accepting responsibility for her actions," El-Haddad wrote.
The letter went on to say that council has limited powers under the code of conduct and the mayor had already voluntarily offered to acknowledge her actions.
But Bowden said she did not find the letters sincere.
"And council deeming the matter closed, that hurt the most because it was not resolved," she said.
Bowden said she then brought the issue to New Glasgow Regional Police, which turned the matter over to Cape Breton Regional Police for transparency reasons.
El-Haddad confirmed to CBC News on Monday that Dicks has stepped down from the town's police commission, but is staying on as mayor.
When reached by email on Monday, Dicks said she had no comment, "as the matter is before the court."
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