Dueling rallies: Anti-racism demonstrators clash with counter-protesters in Red Deer

Surrounded by the watchful eyes of RCMP officers, two rallies — separated by 100 metres — were held in Red Deer’s Coronation Park on Sunday, following a protest that escalated to violence in the city on Sept. 20.

Read more: Alberta RCMP investigating after Red Deer anti-racism rally gets violent

One group — with people from Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta and Red Deer Against Racism — held a peace walk that about 150 people attended; the other, a barbeque of about 30 people.

The barbeque group ended up at city hall, but once the anti-racism group walked there too, a shouting match occurred. RCMP members had to step in, separating some of those who attended the barbeque from those involved the peace march.

Demonstrators march down a street during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Demonstrators march down a street during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Kisha Daniels, co-founder of Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta, organized the peace walk in response to white supremacists crashing the Sept. 20 anti-racism protest.

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“We decided to hold a peace walk today to bring peace to our city and a message that Red Deer largely is not the way it’s being painted. It’s largely a friendly city,” she said.

“We hope to bring a message of peace and unity to the city. We have different organizations coming out to support us.”

Kisha Daniels, cofounder of Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta, pictured on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Kisha Daniels, cofounder of Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta, pictured on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

Daniels said she is open to having a discussion with opposing groups.

“I know they say they want to have a conversation with us, but we have no way to communicate with them because they have blocked us on all social media,” she said.

A police officer stands between counter-protesters and demonstrators as they march down a street during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
A police officer stands between counter-protesters and demonstrators as they march down a street during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘We are not racist’

Patrick King said he organized a community barbeque because “the last couple of weeks in Red Deer [have] gotten pretty heated.”

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Read more: Anti-racism group angered by Premier Kenney’s response to Red Deer violence

King said his group was full of peaceful, contributing citizens, denying they were involved with the Canadian Patriots. He chose to identify himself as a “concerned [Canadian] citizen who knows the truth.”

“We want to engage in conversation and we want to understand them. They can understand us,” he said. “But when we don’t align ourselves with them, then all of a sudden, they are calling us racist, white supremacists.”

Patrick King pictured on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Patrick King pictured on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

The group doesn’t want looting and rioting, King said, “but we know that’s what they are trying to escalate to.”

“We are not racist. None of these people. We have a multicultural group of citizens here,” he said.

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“We have Native people, we have Jewish people, we have all different cultures. How can you call us racist?”

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King said he is concerned about Antifa, an anti-fascist ideology.

“We know that Antifa are violent, aggressive. I got to watch what I say, but they’re punks,” he said. “They come in and they’re going to thwart this Black Lives Matter movement and they’ll be the provocateurs and the aggressors in all of this.”

Police officers stand between counter-protesters and demonstrators as they march during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Police officers stand between counter-protesters and demonstrators as they march during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The RCMP’s presence on Sunday was overkill, King said.

Staff Sgt. Marlene Brown said the RCMP had adequate resources in place to ensure public safety, noting that several roads were blocked off.

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“We wanted to ensure there was adequate space for people to exercise their right to assemble,” Brown said. “We felt it was in the best interest of everyone involved.”

Demonstrators march during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Demonstrators march during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘People need to educate themselves’

Cheryl Jamie, founder of Red Deer Against Racism, said Sunday that the Sept. 20 rally “proves they are at a different point of learning,” adding that she welcomes discussion.

Having her event crashed caused her much anxiety.

“It also goes beyond just the fact that they crashed it; a lot of organizers like myself have been receiving death threats online,” Jamie said.

“Obviously, I do feel a sense of fear, but at the same time, this is a discussion that is more than necessary, and we are going to keep showing up and standing up and it kind of is a motivating factor.”

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Demonstrators march down a street during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Demonstrators march down a street during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Sunday’s event was “intersectional,” Jamie explained.

“It is all-inclusive: we have Pride, we have racialized folks, we have people who have disabilities joining us,” she said.

“We want to get the message across that we are a peaceful bunch, and we just want equality for absolutely everybody.”

Demonstrators march during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020.
Demonstrators march during an anti-racism event in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Jamie wants people to confront reality.

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“Canada has a big representation of being welcoming and inclusive, but this is a reality, and even just the racial slurs that the hate groups direct towards us, this is a daily reality for people,” she said.

“That is why we were discussing this because we are tired of it and people need to educate themselves.”

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