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A look back at how Alberta RCMP handled counter-protesters at anti-racism rallies

Last Updated Feb 19, 2021 at 8:09 am MDT

Summary

Counter-protesters, including some with connections to hate groups, crashed a Black and Indigenous Alliance event


RCMP officers did not separate the two groups


A week later, organizers mobilized an anti-racism rally and once again, counter-protesters disrupted the event


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“We let everybody say what they need to say as peacefully as they can. And, that’s how this country works.”

On Sept. 14, 2020, the Black and Indigenous Alliance held a press conference in Ponoka, a small town in Alberta.

Counter-protesters, including some with connections to hate groups, crashed the event.

“Go home … we don’t want to hear what you have to say,” one man repeatedly yelled into a megaphone.

RCMP officers did not separate the two groups.

“We let everybody say what they need to say as peacefully as they can. And, that’s how this country works,” Sgt. Chris Smiley said at the time.

A week later on Sept. 23, organizers mobilized an anti-racism rally in Red Deer, Alta.

Once again, counter-protesters disrupted the event and tensions escalated.

Social media video showed a man ramming the side of another man’s head with both hands. The alleged assault took place before police arrived.

“I will not tolerate this as our justice minister and solicitor general.”

In total, Red Deer RCMP said “three separate criminal incidents” took place at the rally.

Within days, Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu spoke out against the violence.

“I will not tolerate this as our justice minister and solicitor general. Police have a difficult job of keeping the peace, but it is also critically important that the RCMP maintain public confidence by explaining their role in situations like this,” Madu said.

On Oct. 4, Black and Indigenous Alliance organized a peace walk in the same city.

“We are about a message of peace, and unity, and equity,” the group’s co-founder Kisha Daniels said.

This time, the RCMP showed up with barricades, drones and a helicopter.

“We understand the motives for why the RCMP did that,” Daniels said. “The motive is that they were very clearly … called out for their inaction … and I think they also wanted to change the narrative.”