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Calgary police chief, mayor react to Black Lives Matter protests

Last Updated Jun 2, 2020 at 8:22 pm MST

A Black Lives Matter rally held in downtown Calgary on June 1, 2020. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — The city has been home to a couple of protests tackling racism and police brutality in recent days, with more planned.

Calgary Police Service says its proud of the peaceful demonstrators and condemns the incident seen in the United States.

RELATED: Thousands march downtown in support of Black Lives Matter

Police chief Mark Neufeld says despite such an emotional topic Calgarians were civil, peaceful and thoughtful.

“I think our relationship our police service has in our communities is very very strong,” Neufeld said.

“We’ve always been very proud of the way our community has conducted themselves in cases like this. And yesterday (Monday) was no different and I think Sunday in Fish Creek Park was the very same. People know their rights, we’re there to guarantee those rights and to help them actually, to be able to exercise those rights while minimizing you know some of the impacts on the broader community and I think we’ve been able to work well together at that,” he added.

Calgary is one of the only Canadian cities with police body-cams, Neufeld says measures like those will help keep police-citizen interactions peaceful and civil.

“We do think that they’re a positive thing and we think that they’re just one more way of demonstrating our ability to be transparent and to try to have that object of witness there.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi is proud of the way Calgarians came together to protest and says he doesn’t have all the answers, but continues to fight for human rights and the need to speak up.

“Thank you for being peaceful, thank you for standing up positively to the rights of yourselves and for each other,” Nenshi said.

“This is a real chance for us as Canadians to acknowledge the very real racism personal and systemic that still exists in this country,” he added.

Nenshi continued by thanking the Calgary Police Service, highlighting some officers took a knee in solidarity, but knows it’s not enough but a good first step.

With ongoing protests around the world, Neufeld doesn’t expect things to escalate.

“We know that we do a difficult job. Our members are out there, sometimes in volatile circumstances, and we know well that not everything goes right or the way we hope all the time. And regardless of where things happen, in this case, it’s Minneapolis but it could be anywhere around the globe, we try to learn whatever lesson we can. Something like this I don’t see anything like that happening here,” he said.

Neufeld, along with a number of police chiefs across Canada and the United States, put out a statement denouncing what happened in Minneapolis.

Moving forward the mayor says there needs to be a commitment to being anti-racist and actively condemn racism wherever we see it.