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Police chief responds to criticism over handling of anti-mask rallies

Last Updated Feb 24, 2021 at 8:10 am MDT

Photo of Calgary police officer shaking hands with a speaker at an anti-mask rally in CF Chinook Center. (CREDIT: Facebook.com/MistyWind).

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – As another anti-lockdown protest is scheduled for this weekend, Calgary police are facing criticism for the way they’ve handled demonstrators in the past.

Most notably was a clip from nearly two weeks ago, showing an officer shaking hands and embracing a rally organizer at an event in Chinook Centre.

WATCH: Video of Calgary police officer shaking hands with anti-masker draws outrage

During a meeting with the Calgary Police Commission, Chief Mark Neufeld said that moment was blown out of proportion, explaining police are focused on limiting negative impacts to people and the officer was getting the organizer to call the event off.

“The officer in the video relied on his professional relationship with the organizers to get them to cut their plan short and voluntarily leave the mall.”

He added police have nothing in common with the protestors given how they have treated officers during the course of the pandemic.

“You wouldn’t have to look very far into their social media posts to see what they’re truly all about and the views they promote. I’m thinking of one individual in particular where the week before, the individuals are referring to our officers as Nazis and SS and Gestapo, something that I particularly find offensive.”

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi has also called out these protestors for their extremist agendas referring to them as idiots for public health and the safety of others at risk.

“I know it’s even more frustrating when we see horrific scenes like we saw in Edmonton on the weekend where they’re not even hiding their white nationalism anymore,” said Nenshi during a COVID-19 update on Tuesday.

“It’s not at all about masks, we know what those torches mean.”

Despite frustrations over these rallies, Nenshi encouraged Calgarians to continue doing the right thing and following public health orders.