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 new walking path is the latest improvement at Vernon’s popular Sandy Beach. (RDNO photo)
New walkway added to Vernon’s Sandy Beach

The walking path is the latest improvement following an agreement between the regional district and OKIB

The Vernon School District reports 95 per cent of its students have returned to classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Fewer local, more international students help cover Vernon School District’s $1.2M enrolment deficit

School district projected 13 fee-paying international students; 43 enrolled

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

Stacey Darren Alec pleaded guilty to three charges relating to child pornography at the Vernon law courts Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)
Guilty plea in child porn charges for Vernon man

The man in his 50s will appear for sentencing Nov. 9

Vernon-Monashee candidate Harwinder Sandhu signs have been tampered with repeatedly leading up to the Oct. 24 election. (Contributed)
More Vernon-Monashee candidate signs vandalized

NDP candidate Hardwinder Sandhu hit hard with repairs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

With snow already on the ground, preparations are underway to welcome back guests at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for the winter season. (KHMR photo)
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort announces COVID procedures

The resort is set to open on Dec. 11.

Most Read