Anti-racism group calls premier’s response to violent Red Deer rally ‘substandard, disappointing’

CALGARY — The group behind an anti-racism rally that turned violent over the weekend says the provincial government needs to take a harsher stance against racism and threats at peaceful protests.

Organizers of the event say the response from Premier Jason Kenney and Justice Minister Kaycee Madu is “substandard, disappointing and, honestly, quite saddening.” Callum Daniels, the co-founder of the Black and Indigenous Alliance, says statements from the province have not gone far enough to condemn the confrontations caught on camera.

“Premier Jason Kenney, may I remind you this was an anti-racism community conversation? I would argue that if someone was to oppose or disagree with an anti-racism event, it would make them racist,” Daniels said.

Videos from the Sunday event appear to show a counter-protest group attending the anti-racism rally. It shows two crowds coming together, then a man enters the camera frame and seems to push another man’s head.

As the shouts and expletives increase, others are purportedly pushed and shoved. At one point, a man who seems to be in league with the counter-protest says, “You wanna go? Let’s dance right now. You shut the f*** up.”

Alberta’s justice minister called the reports of violence disturbing, unacceptable and a violation of the right to peaceful assembly.

“Disagreeing does not entitle one to use violence. We can and should disagree on public policy and discuss issues without resorting to violence,” Madu said Tuesday.

A statement from premier’s office says Jason Kenney condemns racism in all forms.

“The minister of justice is a key part of the premier’s Cabinet, and Minister Madu spoke for the entire government of Alberta this week in condemning what occurred in Red Deer,” the statement reads.

RCMP are reviewing videos and have opened investigations into the confrontations at the rally and the alleged assault.

The anti-racism group says they plan to hold more protests with additional security in the future.

“We’ve gone all over the place and that’s because we are from these rural communities and we’ve experienced the racism,” said Taylor McNallie, with Rural Alberta Against Racism. “We are just trying to have those conversations in those communities.

“That’s why it’s popping up like this and it’s getting agitated.”

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