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Politicians' statements on Red Deer violence leave some wanting more

Last Updated Sep 23, 2020 at 6:35 pm MDT

CALGARY – A violent response to an anti-racism rally in Red Deer brings a mixed response from Alberta politicians—some refuse to take a hard line against racism, but take a risk trying to be diplomatic.

Video of an anti-racism rally in Red Deer Sunday counter-protesters verbally assaulting those at the rally and throwing punches.

WATCH: Anti-racism rally cancelled in Red Deer after hate groups disrupt event

Alberta’s Justice Minister Kaycee Madu denounced bigotry and intolerance a day after CityNews brought you the story but he also said we “can and should” disagree.

“Disagreeing does not entitle one to use violence. We can and should disagree on public policy and discuss issues without resorting to violence,” he told a news conference Tuesday.

READ MORE: ‘Unacceptable’: Justice Minister decries violence at anti-racism rally

Mount Royal University Political Scientist Lori Williams calls the wording of his remarks unfortunate.

“As a politician, you want to be trying to encourage people to do better. The problem here is there doesn’t seem to be an acknowledgment that there is a problem,” she said.

Red Deer’s Mayor also denounced racism at a joint conference with RCMP a few hours after Madu spoke.

“The city recognizes that social tensions are high in our country as a result of many factors, the pandemic, the economy and political polarity just to name a few,” she told reporters.

She called the acts of a few, “despicable” but she did not address the core issue of racism when examining why it happened.

RELATED: Protester hit by truck during peaceful rally, says anti-racism group

Activist Shuana Porter says by not specifically calling something racist, politicians show people their actions can go on unchecked.

“You are giving the tools for these people to say, ‘Well if I do this, there’s clearly not going to be any repercussion to my actions. Why will I stop?’” said Porter.

“The tendency is to think well this isn’t a problem here, or it isn’t our problem,” said Lori Williams.

Porter echoes Williams, saying racism may look different in Canada but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

“It shows up differently in the United States than Canada in a lot of ways, but is it different is it better? Is it worse? No, it’s the same exact thing,” said Porter.

RELATED: Ponoka RCMP looking for video of protester hit by truck

Earlier this month an anti-racism rally in Ponoka saw someone drive off the road and into the area where protesters had gathered, hitting and injuring a man from Calgary.