RED DEER, Alta. — RCMP in Alberta say they are investigating after an anti-racism rally in Red Deer turned violent on the weekend.
News footage from CityTV Edmonton shows counter-protesters shoving demonstrators who had gathered to denounce racism, but no RCMP officers are seen intervening.
Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu says violence and threats of violence are unacceptable and he has urged the RCMP's commanding officer in Alberta to get to the bottom of what happened.
Madu says the Mounties have told him they weren't there for the initial confrontation because protest organizers changed the location of the rally at the last minute.
Kisha Daniels, a co-founder of Black and Indigenous Alliance AB says the RCMP was well-aware of the location change, which was made in response to threats from white supremacist groups.
Daniels says she had been planning to speak at the rally about education and anti-blackness, but the event was interrupted by Yellow Vesters, Soldiers of Odin and other groups honking their horns, blaring sirens and yelling.
She calls what happened traumatizing and says so far the RCMP has not reached out, even though she has footage and other information to contribute to any investigation.
RCMP said in a news release Monday that there was a disturbance as the anti-racism groups were setting up the rally on Sunday.
"Red Deer RCMP were aware of the planned demonstration and had prepared to have adequate resources and specially equipped officers at the event to handle any potential risks to public safety," the news release said.
"After arriving on scene, members became aware of the alleged assault, were able to de-escalate the situation between the two groups, and spoke with the victim."
The RCMP said a "second incident," which they did not explain in the news release, was brought to their attention a day later and they are asking any witnesses to come forward.
"The Red Deer RCMP take this matter very seriously," Supt. Gerald Grobmeier said in a statement.
"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."
By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 22, 2020.