Second attempt at peaceful anti-racism rally a success in Red Deer

Hundreds marched peacefully through the rain in Red Deer, Alta., in support of the anti-racism movement on Sunday afternoon, a contrast to the violent protest that had occurred two weeks prior. 

About 200 people joined the peace walk from Coronation Park to city hall in downtown Red Deer, holding signs and chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Indigenous Lives Matter”. The event was organized by the Black and Indigenous Alliance and Red Deer Against Racism. 

Sunday’s event was a second attempt at holding an anti-racism rally after counter-protestors disrupted an event held on Sept. 20, and allegedly assaulted a protester. 

Cheryl Jaime, founder of Red Deer Against Racism, said after the previous event’s violence, they had hoped to have a successful event this time around.  

“It really shook up the city, that’s for sure, like a lot of people didn’t feel safe going up and down the streets,” she said. 

“People were feeling embarrassed, like just being people of Red Deer and the message that we want to get across is … that these groups don’t represent our city.”

Protestors on the peace walk against racism in downtown Red Deer on Sunday afternoon. (CBC News)

She added the violence from two weeks ago proves that “racialized folks are still and continuously are being silenced.”

There was heavy police presence at Sunday’s event, with several streets blocked off by RCMP. 

Members of alt-right groups held a barbecue at the same time as the protest in Coronation Park.

At one point, six counter protestors did get ahead of the anti-racism march in an attempt to confront marchers, but were quietly pushed back by RCMP officers who used their bikes as a barricade to prevent the counter protesters from getting too close.

Jaime said they knew the counter-protesters would be at the event as the alt-right groups have been doxxing members of Red Deer Against Racism.

“That’s what they did with the last event,” she said. 

“But we just want them to know that we’re not scared. This is something that is worth fighting for and they can keep coming out, but we’ll be, we’ll keep coming out.”

NDP MLAs David Eggen and Janis Irwin were also at the event, after hearing about what had happened at the previous rallies.  

“We know that a number of organizers have been doing incredible work to support anti-racist initiatives across this province and when we heard that they’d been they’d been harassed, you know, we needed to be here,” said Irwin.

Eggen said he feels Albertans are much better than this.

“It doesn’t represent who we are as a province, but we do need to make sure that we’re standing together with everyone and standing together in solidarity so, you know, we have to look past some of this intimidating behaviour and to aim for that larger goal, which is a more just and equal society for all,” he said.

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