RCMP are investigating after an anti-racism demonstration in Red Deer on Sunday became violent.
Kisha Daniels, a co-founder of Black and Indigenous Alliance AB, said her group’s protest was scheduled for 4 p.m. at city hall was moved to the Rotary Recreation Park after receiving “threats for our event.”
Organizers had just set up the audio equipment when a group of people showed up in a counter protest with “their horns blaring, loud music and screaming,” Daniels said.
An attendee to the event had been serving a restraining order on a man in the newly-arrived group when he was hit in the head by a third person, she said.
“As the gentleman decided to hand the papers, that’s when the violence first started and that was when he was first attacked,” Daniels said.
While the incident occurred before officers arrived at the park to maintain order, a video of the confrontation was later shown to officers.
RCMP were aware of the planned demonstration and had prepared to have “adequate resources and specially-equipped officers at the event to handle any potential risks to public safety,” the release said.
“After arriving on scene, members became aware of the alleged assault, were able to de-escalate the situation between the two groups and spoke with the victim.”
‘RCMP take this matter very seriously’
On Monday RCMP were made aware of a second incident via social media posts. Police are asking for witnesses to come forward.
“The Red Deer RCMP take this matter very seriously,” Supt. Gerald Grobmeier, officer in charge of Red Deer RCMP, said in the release.
“The role of the RCMP at demonstrations is to keep the peace and allow individuals their democratic right to gather. The matter remains under investigation.”
Daniels said organizers were expecting the weekend’s event to be peaceful, despite a recent event in Ponoka where an anti-racism protester was struck by a vehicle during a heated demonstration.
Black and Indigenous Alliance AB was created to “unite, educate and bring movement to Alberta’s Black and Indigenous Peoples,” according to its Facebook page.
Daniels said moving forward, any future events organized by the group will not be posted on social media and will be held in private venues.
The group is actively seeking a civil rights lawyer and more security for future events.
“I’m a Black woman, I’m racialized, I’m 100 per cent used to this kind of abuse,” Daniels said. “It happens on a regular occasion in central Alberta. That’s not to say there’s not good people in central Alberta.
“I really feel like Alberta and the citizens here do not want to stand for this kind of violence. They want to learn about anti-racism and they want racialized people to have voices and to have equity.”
Politicians denounce violence
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said in an emailed statement that the city “unequivocally denounce violence and racism in our community.
“Furthermore, it is highly concerning for our community that travelling protests have incited division and violence in our city.
“The city recognizes that social tensions are extremely high across our country as a result of the pandemic, economy, political polarity, and competing world views.
“However, as a community it is imperative we pull together, and not apart, during adverse times. We cannot allow the actions of a few to characterize our city.”
In a news conference Tuesday Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu said all Canadians have the right to peaceful protests and free speech but that violence is unacceptable.
“I have seen select clips of the protest in Red Deer on Sunday and I am admittedly disturbed,” he said.
“Violence and threats of violence at peaceful protests are unacceptable. Period.”
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