Halifax police used pepper spray today as they arrested several counter-protesters who were reacting to the presence of a small group of demonstrators with the National Citizens Alliance in the city's main square.

The Calgary-based alliance has occasionally mounted demonstrations in the city, drawing counter protests from groups opposed to the alliance's views on immigration and other issues.

Police say the four-person alliance demonstration on Saturday had a legal permit to be in the Grand Parade, next to City Hall, and it drew a counter protest of 150 to 200 people.

A news release says that while the alliance protesters were setting up one of them was "assaulted by an adult male" from the group Halifax Against Hate, and a 34-year-old man was taken into custody and charged with breach of the peace.

Later in the day, the counter protesters clashed again with the alliance demonstrators.

Police say that as officers were arresting a 28-year-old counter protester for damaging a sign, the officer was allegedly surrounded and he deployed pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Police have charged the 28-year-old from Halifax with unlawful assembly, property damage and theft under $5,000.