The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

RCMP investigating after far-right groups disrupt anti-racism rally in Alberta

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said she respects the right of peaceful assembly, but denounces racism and violence

RCMP are investigating after far-right protesters disrupted what was to be a peaceful anti-racism rally in central Alberta last weekend, but local advocacy groups say officers should have been better prepared to stop the violence.

Kisha Daniels, a co-founder of Black and Indigenous Alliance AB, said organizers were setting up the event in a park in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday when they heard honking, sirens and yelling from about 30 metres away.

She said there were threats of violence ahead of the event and, right before it started, people associated with the Yellow Vest movement, Soldiers of Odin and other far-right groups showed up.

“It was very hard for us, very traumatic for us to have to deal with these white supremacist groups without any RCMP interaction or involvement,” said Daniels, whose planned speech about education and anti-Blackness had to be called off.

A video posted by one rally-goer on Facebook shows a man in a sleeveless shirt yelling, swearing and calling them “paid pieces of garbage.”

A rally volunteer marked with red tape on his clothing is seen striding up to counter-protesters with a stack of paper. The man in the sleeveless shirt lunges at the volunteer, shoves him and tells him to get out.

The nearly 11-minute video captures further scuffles between the two sides. A police vehicle can be seen on the periphery, but no officers appear to intervene. The video ends with both groups trying to drown each other out with chants of “Black lives matter” and “all lives matter.”

Daniels said volunteers suffered injuries, including a broken tooth.

Supt. Gerald Grobmeier with the Red Deer RCMP said police were prepared for the event with 16 officers, but both groups arrived earlier than expected.

“We did have our analysts monitoring social media and we did plan for it,” he said.

“We always do … just to see what the chatter might be.”

Grobmeier said police arrived within minutes of the alleged assault, de-escalated the situation and spoke with a victim. They are asking witnesses to come forward to determine if charges are warranted.

Daniels said she has video, screenshots and photos to share with the RCMP.

But she said she has approached police in the past about threats she has received and “was told there was nothing that can be done about it.”

Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said he has urged Alberta’s commanding officer to get to the bottom of what happened.

“Police have a difficult job keeping the peace,” Madu said, calling the violence disturbing and unacceptable.

“It’s also critically important that the RCMP maintain public confidence by explaining their role in such situations.”

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said she respects the right of peaceful assembly, but unequivocally denounces racism and violence.

“It is highly concerning for our community that travelling protests have incited division and violence in our city,” she said in a statement, noting how the pandemic, economy and other factors have added to “social tensions.”

“We cannot let the actions of a few characterize our city.”

Anti-racism marches and rallies have taken place in communities large and small since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the spring. The Black man died after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking a worldwide outcry over systemic racism and police brutality.

Dieulita Datus and Sadia Khan, co-founders of the anti-discrimination not-for-profit Ubuntu — Mobilizing Central Alberta, said most rallies they have attended around central Alberta this summer have been peaceful.

They said they felt disheartened when they saw footage of the Red Deer event and bigoted comments about it posted on social media.

“My heart sank. We are losing the message and the intent that needs to be heard right now,” said Khan, who lives in Red Deer.

Datus said the RCMP should be talking to grassroots groups like Ubuntu so they can be more proactive.

“We’ve made calls repeatedly over the summer for the RCMP and other local police organizations to have the frank conversations, for them to recognize the dog whistles, for them to recognize hate groups for exactly what they are, for them to see threats for exactly what they are.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A truck crosses the rail line on Vye Road at the site of a promised overpass that is now set to be built. File photo
Budget for Abbotsford highway and overpass project now $20 million higher than first announced

Budget for Highway 11 widening and Vye Road overpass to be set at $47 million

The Abbotsford Arts Council’s Anonymous Art Show is normally held in person, but this year the exhibit will be held online, starting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Arts Council presents online Anonymous Art Show

Half the proceeds go to artists, and other half goes to arts council

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Abbotsford School of the Integrated Arts (Sumas). (Abbotsford School District)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Abbotsford high school

Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts’ exposure on Oct. 19, 20 and 21

Thomas Dawson Peacock
Surrey man, 32, charged with sexual interference

Incidents alleged to have happened in Surrey and Abbotsford

Highstreet shopping centre is holding its Land of Boo from now until Halloween. Visitors are invited to dress in costume and take their picture in front of one of the Halloween-inspired backdrops. (Highstreet photo)
Abbotsford celebrates Halloween with pandemic in mind

Socially distanced events replace usual spooky activities

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Maestro Otto Tausk. (Photo: vancouversymphony.ca)
50/50 lotto players buck up for Metro Vancouver musicians hit hard by COVID

‘Rapidly growing jackpot’ for VSO’s 50/50 draw as they go online with TheConcertHall.ca

Most Read