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Police investigation underway into parking lot clash in northeast Calgary

Police are investigating following a clash in northeast Calgary Saturday afternoon that left some small businesses damaged, numerous participants injured and left witnesses wondering what was going on.

The incident took place about 5 p.m. Saturday in a parking lot in Castleridge, when two groups of what appeared to be Eritrean men brandishing sticks, rocks and bats confronted each other.

One witness, William, said he saw men getting out of vehicles wielding 2x4s and pipes and asked one of them what they were doing.

“He says they’re protesting the dictatorship in Artario (Eritrea) or something like that and I go why the hell you have 2x4s and pipes?” he said.

Protesters, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023

Police were on hand, including a tactical support team unit, and a number of officers on horses who did their best to keep the two groups separated.


At a press conference early Saturday afternoon, a police spokesperson said what took place Saturday could not be classified as a protest.

“This is not a protest,” said CPS spokesperson Bennett Cliff O’Brien. “This is a violent conflict between two groups with opposing views that were looking for a confrontation.”

On social media, police said they believed two groups consisting of up to 150 people clashed, until police officers moved in to separate the groups and de-escalated the situation.

O’Brien said no arrests have been made yet but that will change.

“We have assigned detectives to investigate and that’s what they’ll do. I have every confidence that there’ll be multiple people arrested,” he said.


There were no figures provided but some people were hurt, he added.

“There were definitely injuries,” he said. “We had some people that were transported to the hospital by EMS. We know that we also had some people that self-evacuated to the hospital, we really won’t have the extent of how many people were injured until probably sometime tomorrow when we try to pull together all of this information.

“We know there were at least 10 people that that we believe were transported to the hospital.”


While protests are a regular event in Calgary, O’Brien said the majority are peaceful – although there are exceptions.

“We’ve had groups in the past that have had confrontations and are looking for conflict. So that’s not new.

“In Calgary, we have well over 1,000 events every year, and the vast majority of them are very peaceful. And there’s no there’s no issues,” he said.

“Again, these are groups of individuals that came here with the intent of causing or being involved in a confrontation and causing violence to each other,” he added. “We know that at least some of the groups were stashing weapons or people in the groups were stashing weapons well before this took place. So this (information) is super-troubling.”

Police guidelines for peaceful protest in Calgary


While it appears to have been a clash between conflicting Eritrean communities, he said that remained to be determined.

“We haven’t confirmed that (Eritrean). Certainly, that’s what it looks like,” he said, adding that police were aware of the planned confrontation and prepared for the possibility of trouble.

“We had resources nearby and we were prepared if there was some type of clash, as we’ve seen in other areas of the country.”

That preparation allowed the police to respond within 10 minutes, he said, which may have prevented even more injuries.

“This is a group that was not listening to the police,” he said. “This is a group that was actively trying to assault the police officers as well as each other, and was not listening. So the police officers that were on the scene did a great job in separating that group and then trying to get some control.”

Calgary police on horseback at Eritrean clash, Saturday in northeast Calgary

“The premeditation is serious,” he said. “I think the fact that they use weapons, you know, that they access the weapons, they use them. I think the fact that they were didn’t seem to care that the police were there, they were actively trying to assault the police officers. I think the fact that we have multiple people injured, some with some fairly serious injuries. I think the whole incident is troubling.

“On top of that,” he added, “this impacted the entire city, because we had to pull resources from other areas and other communities to come to this community to deal with a situation.”

A police presence will be maintained in the area to ensure there’s no more confrontations, while a criminal investigation continues.

A group of protesters clashed with a second group Saturday in Northeast Calgary

“The criminal investigation into those people that were committing offenses, that will continue to go on as well,” he said. “There will continue to be a presence by police in the area that these groups are at, and until they’re done, and you know, we’re hoping for a peaceful resolution. We’re hoping that there’s no more violence and for the people that committed violence. At some point we’ll be knocking on your door to arrest you.”

A witness to the event who identified himself as Amrinder said seeing violence break out was a shock.

“I’ve just never seen anything like this in Calgary,” he said. “First time. It’s pretty scary to be honest you know?”

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