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'Unacceptable': Justice Minister decries violence at anti-racism rally

Last Updated Sep 22, 2020 at 1:26 pm MDT

Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu speaks after a peaceful anti-racism rally in Red Deer turned violent. (PHOTO: Courtney Theriault, CityNews)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – Alberta’s Justice Minister said RCMP has opened a criminal investigation after an anti-racism rally in Red Deer was crashed by hate groups over the weekend.

On Monday, CityNews brought the story and video of the rally which was cancelled after counter-protesters crashed the event.

WATCH: Anti-racism rally cancelled in Red Deer after hate groups disrupt event

The counter-protestors can be seen verbally assaulting those at the rally and throwing punches.

Minister Kaycee Madu said he saw the video and was deeply disturbed by it. He said violence and threats of violence at peaceful protesters is unacceptable.

Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Posted by 660 NEWS on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Madu said he spoke to the RCMP Dep. Commissioner about the violence and was told an investigation has been opened.

He also spoke to Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, promising the support of his department.

In a release, Red Deer RCMP said they were aware of the planned rally and prepared to have the resources and officers at the event to handle any potential risks to safety.

After arriving on scene, officers received word of one alleged assault and were able to de-escalate the situation between the two groups and spoke with the victim.

A second incident was brought to the Alberta RCMP’s attention via social media.

Police are now asking for any witnesses to these alleged assaults to come forward.

“The Red Deer RCMP take this matter very seriously,” said Supt. Gerald Grobmeier. “The role of the RCMP at demonstrations is to keep the peace and allow individuals their democratic right to gather. The matter remains under investigation.”

While many have asked for the Justice Department to announce charges, Madu said that is not possible and he can’t order RCMP to arrest anyone.

The RCMP had been criticized for not intervening once the hate groups moved in and violence started.

When asked if he believed RCMP did their job in protecting people at the rally, Madu said he was told by police the protest was moved at the last minute, and officers weren’t immediately aware and the violence happened before they arrived at the new location.

 

With files from CityNews Edmonton