Anti-racists in Calgary can claim another victory on International Anti-Racism Day March 19 as supporters were successful in silencing white supremacist groups who took to the streets to spread their message in response.
Calgary was the scene of parallel protests in the downtown core Saturday as white supremacists faced off against anti-racism demonstrators. The two groups got within a block of each other before running into lines of police in riot gear. Despite the best efforts of the white supremacists to bust through the lines and reach City Hall where the anti-racism demonstrators were rallying, the supremacists were left shouting down the street at their opposition.
Shouting, “white pride worldwide”, the 16 demonstrators from the group calling themselves Blood and Honour were outnumbered by the 200 anti-racism protesters. Rumours circulated before the rally Saturday that a large number of white supremists would take to the streets but with most of the leadership of the various groups still in prison, the numbers fizzled. Meanwhile, the anti-racism groups were able to muster large numbers again for the fourth year in a row.
Police arrested one anti-racism demonstrator who appeared to have concealed weapons; charges are pending. There were no other arrests or incidents during the three-hour standoff. Eventually the group of Blood and Honour members were escorted by police to a waiting city bus driven by police officers and taken from the area.
While the day was handled well by Calgary Police, the continued presence of white supremacist groups in Calgary has raised the issue of the lack of a hate crime unit within the Calgary Police Department. Police Chief Rick Hanson said the police department expects all officers to deal with hate crimes and spreads the responsibility of responding to hate crimes across the department instead of a single group of officers.