The founder of a group that has been described as an American-style militia movement was one of two people arrested Tuesday in connection with recent protests at the home of Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
RCMP and Halifax Regional Police said in a news release Wednesday that they charged Jeremy Mitchell MacKenzie, 36, of Pictou, N.S., and Morgan May Guptill, 31, of Cole Harbour, N.S. Nova Scotia, of stalking, mischief, harassing phone calls and intimidating a medical professional.
RCMP constable. Guillaume Tremblay said the latest charge — intimidation of a medical professional — was introduced in January specifically to address issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charges come after three days of protests outside Fall River, Nova Scotia, home of Dr. Robert Strang, which began on Sunday. Strang also said people were calling him until 2 a.m. that morning.
Police said they arrested MacKenzie and Guptill on Pleasant Street in the Woodside area of Dartmouth on Tuesday night as protests continued outside Strang’s home. When the police informed the protesters that the couple had been arrested, they left.
“Dr. Strang wishes to convey his sincere thanks to law enforcement for their response to the incidents occurring outside his home. As this is now a matter before the courts, he will not comment. more,” the Nova Scotia Department of Health said. spokeswoman Marla MacInnis said in an email.
MacKenzie and Guptill appeared virtually in Dartmouth Provincial Court on Wednesday, where the Crown objected to their release from police custody.
They were ordered to remain in police custody and a release hearing is scheduled for Friday morning in the same court. Both defendants were ordered not to have any contact with Strang or his family.
Diagolon a white nationalist movement, says prof
MacKenzie is the founder of Diagolon. University of New Brunswick professor David Hofmann, who studies far-right movements, told CBC News in February that the group’s goal was to establish a “diagonal” white nationalist state.
He said those who believe in the Diagolon movement say a civil war is needed to create a new state that would stretch diagonally from Alaska, through Canada’s western provinces, to Florida. Hofmann also said they hoped to achieve this through violence.
Two of four southern Alberta men charged with conspiring to assassinate RCMP officers at border checkpoints in Coutts, Alta., last month have ties to Diagolon.
Earlier this year, the RCMP raided the home of MacKenzie’s parents in Pictou, Nova Scotia, and seized several firearms after a video was posted on social media allegedly showing MacKenzie pointing a gun at another man’s head while drunk on whisky.
According to an RCMP request for a search warrant at the High Street residence, MacKenzie appeared in the video to be in possession of a prohibited device “high capacity magazine”.
“The magazine was inserted into a firearm that MacKenzie was handling carelessly,” the document from Const. said David Peck.
“MacKenzie’s actions in the video, and by his own admission to police on January 13, 2022, suggest that MacKenzie was intoxicated at the time the video was captured.”
MacKenzie is a veteran with PTSD
The document described MacKenzie as an Afghanistan War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. He served in the Canadian Army for 14 years.
The video was shot while MacKenzie was at the Iron Mountain Wilderness Cabins in Whycocomagh, N.S., according to the app. In the video, MacKenzie appeared to be in a building that looked like a commercial restaurant.
“MacKenzie seemed drunk and waved the gun recklessly,” he said.
“While waving the gun, MacKenzie briefly pointed the gun at [the man’s] head, provoking [the man] flinch, momentarily close your eyes and lift your head away from your muzzle.
The document said MacKenzie was “quite vocal” during the video, saying things like “I just go where the gun tells me to go.”
He also mentioned “Diagolonoia”, which a witness described to police as “an imaginary country invented by MacKenzie” for which he also created a flag.
Straight talk about COVID-19 restrictions
The investigator wrote that MacKenzie claimed he did not recall the events of the video, noting that he had been ‘hammered’ at the time, which the officer interpreted to mean he was heavily drunk.
“MacKenzie thought the content of the video was good for laughs…MacKenzie denied knowledge of the firearm he was holding,” the document reads.
MacKenzie was released by police on certain conditions, including that he possess no firearms, weapons, ammunition or explosive substances. He is due to appear in Port Hawkesbury Provincial Court on May 30 on a number of firearms-related charges, according to the RCMP.
MacKenzie moved to Nova Scotia shortly before Christmas to be closer to his children, who lived in Dartmouth, and before that he lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the search warrant document shows.
It appears that Guptill, the other person charged in connection with protests outside Strang’s home, has been outspoken about COVID-19 restrictions in the past.
A person named Morgan Guptill started a petition early in the pandemic against the province implementing a state of emergency.
A Twitter profile bearing Morgan May’s name also frequently tweets and retweets about protests against COVID-19 restrictions, including a poster saying she was hosting a January rally outside Global News in Halifax titled The Media Is The Virus.
Houston denounces protests at Strang’s home
On Monday, Premier Tim Houston denounced protest activity at Strang’s home and suggested steps could be taken to stop future protests at officials’ homes.
Last weekend’s protest is not the first to take place outside Strang’s home. In September, a small group opposed to public health restrictions demonstrated outside Strang’s home. At that time, Houston addressed them in a video telling them to “grow up.”