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Calgary City Council denounces racist symbols in anti-mask protests

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it has been clear for some time that the regular demonstrations against pandemic public health measures are also a means of spreading hatred

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Madeline Smith

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March 01, 2021 • • 3 hours ago • • Read for 2 minutes • • 30 comments Calgary police were busy keeping the peace when hundreds of anti-mask protesters and counter-protesters competed at Calgary City Hall on Saturday, February 27, 2021. DARREN MAKOWICHUK / Postmedia

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The city council unanimously decided on Monday to denounce racist symbols that were displayed at an anti-mask rally in front of the town hall.

Saturday’s demonstration came a week after people from well-known hate groups were spotted at a similar gathering outside the Edmonton legislative building. Some of the protesters there carried lit tiki torches as they marched – reminiscent of the torches carried by white nationalists in a 2017 violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as the history of the Ku Klux Klan rallies.

The torches were back in Calgary last weekend.

  1. Police attempt to disperse an anti-mask protest at Chinook Mall in Calgary on Saturday, February 13, 2021.

    The police chief says the officer’s handshake with the anti-mask protester does not mean any support

  2. Calgary police were busy keeping the peace when hundreds of anti-mask protesters and counter-protesters competed at Calgary City Hall on Saturday, February 27, 2021.

    Anti-maskers and counter-protesters compete against each other in Calgary City Hall

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it has been clear for some time that the regular demonstrations against pandemic public health measures are also a means of spreading hatred.

“When we see people promoting these marches with pictures from Charlottesville, we know what that means. We know who this is supposed to intimidate, ”he said.

“And I’ll tell you now, as a colored person in this town, I’ll never let that intimidate me.”

The Movement Council passed on Monday not only officially denounces “statements, actions and symbols” of racism and hatred from the rally, but also sees the city council denouncing ongoing racist messages and behavior on behalf of the Calgarians.

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Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart put forward the motion and said she wanted to formulate the Council of State’s position more formally following an online discussion in the past few days.

“We know that if we don’t hold our own as elected officials, these things can get more encouraging over time.”

Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld spoke about the protests during a police commission meeting last week. He said CPS knew that some of the participants had links with far-right groups and links promoting racism and hatred.

Several city councilors used social media to condemn the recent Calgary exhibition over the weekend, and on Monday some said they were frustrated that nothing more could be done to stop it – especially with the rallies taking place in the square outside Town hall, on public property.

“The hatred isn’t new,” said Coun. Druh Farrell said a group had been present in front of town hall on a regular basis for years.

“I’ve reached my limit. This is the time to take a stand, and I wish we had years ago. “

Richard Hinse, director of Calgary Community Standards who is also a former CPS appointee, told the council it was difficult to strike a balance between the charter’s rights to free speech and hate speech. He added that he was aware that CPS was present at the rally on Saturday and they will consult with Crown prosecutors on whether charges can be brought.

masmith@postmedia.com

Twitter: @meksmith

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