An anti-racism protest this weekend in Red Deer, Alberta turned violent after a group of counter-protesters crashed the rally.
While the event was described by organizers on Facebook as “a peaceful community discussion about bringing inclusivity, further steps into how you can combat racism, and listen to stories of personal experiences from local speakers and speakers from across Alberta,” it turned out to be anything but.
As Black Lives Matter supporters and anti-racism protesters stood face-to-face with counter-protesters at Rotary Recreation Park in the city’s downtown core, RCMP officers stood between the sides.
A total of approximately nine squad cars and 15 police officers were seen gathered at the rally.
Video of the scene showed counter-protesters decked out in gear emblazoned with logos for far-right hate groups such as the Soldiers of Odin, and chanting slogans such as “all lives matter” as verbal altercations and physical scuffles broke out.
“It was traumatic. All of us are traumatized,” Kisha Daniels of the Black Indigenous Alliance, who attended the protest and had been scheduled to speak at Sunday’s event, told CityNews.
Claire Pearen of Edmonton told the Red Deer Advocate that she had personally witnessed racism, growing up in Lacombe with a Black brother and white parents.
“I’m mind blown at the hate that happens around here. I’ve seen more hate and anger at anti-racism protests in Innisfail and surrounding areas than I have in Edmonton,” Pearen said. “It’s shocking how much hate people have, and ignorance, that it’s just mind blowing,”
Red Deer community groups have held a variety of anti-racism events since June, triggered by the death of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis in May while in police custody.
This is not the first incident of its kind to turn violent in Alberta this month. On Sept. 10, the Black and Indigenous Alliance held a rally against racism in Ponoka where counter-protesters also appeared at the scene. One member of the alliance was allegedly hit by a car that swerved towards the group before speeding away from the scene.
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