Hundreds gather in Olympic Plaza for Black Lives Matter protest in Calgary
CALGARY -- Human rights activists and residents came together in Calgary to show their support for the hundreds of peaceful demonstrations taking place in the wake of the murder of American George Floyd.
The group, which allies itself with the Black Lives Matter movement, gathered at Calgary city hall at 4 p.m. Hundreds of protesters, many of whom were dressed in black and carrying signs, met in Olympic Plaza.
In a release, organizers say the violent actions of both the police and the United States government "will no longer go unnoticed or ignored."
"A coalition of human rights activists here in Calgary have planned a peaceful, Black Lives Matter vigil to honour the life of George Floyd and all other victims of police brutality and violence."
The demonstration is expected to include speeches from Adora Nwofor, a Calgary activist, and Godfried Addai, a man who was acquitted of assaulting an officer following a 2015 trial.
Addai filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Calgary Police Service in 2016 after he alleged he was assaulted by officers in December 2013.
According to trial documents, Addai said he had been driving with a group of friends when their vehicle got stuck in the snow. He left the vehicle to go find help, dressed only in a track suit and sneakers in -30 degree weather.
He first encountered Const. Ben Donockley who wrestled him to the ground. The police officer said Addai was acting aggressively.
After being forced into the back of a police van, Addai was dropped off in the East Village and later called 911 for help.
Const. Trevor Lindsay was dispatched to the call and documents again claimed Addai was swearing and acting aggressively. The actions made the CPS member feel threatened so he said he pushed the victim to the ground.
Addai got up and tried to run but was shot by Lindsay's Taser. Additional resources, including HAWCS, was called to the scene.
A camera mounted on the helicopter captured images of Lindsay purportedly punching, kneeing and dragging Addai on the ground.
The judge in the assault trial determined that while Addai was aggressive when he encountered the officers, he was not guilty of assault.
Organizers remind participants to follow health rules
While everyone is encourage to attend the event, organizers want to make sure that everyone stays safe and does their part to prevent COVID-19.
"We ask that media and attendees stick to strict social distancing protocols and wear masks. We will have hand sanitizer and social distancing guides available."
Thousands of people across Alberta have already taken part in Black Lives Matter rallies in Calgary and many other communities over the past week.
Saturday rally also held in Lethbridge
Supporters also turned out on Saturday in Lethbridge and Banff for peaceful rallies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
They laid down in positions where officers would usually arrest someone for over an hour. Some even shared their experiences with racism in Canada.
“I experienced racism all throughout my entire school life, and yet nothing was done,” local resident Tagjok Akorkwag said. “I want everything to change, even for the next generation. I don’t want the same thing that happened to me to happen to them because that’s not right.”
Organizer Joy Warren’s little brother Carson Warren spoke at the protest in Lethbridge held on Thursday, and led the crowd to take a knee.
She says the support for the protests from across different races shows that things are changing, but that it’s important to keep the movement going.
“I think we should fight every day until this racism is cleared out of generations. It’s not necessarily something that people are born with, it’s something that’s taught, and it’s something that can be ended,” Warren said.
Supporters say the response worldwide following the death of George Floyd had been amazing, as it’s shone a new light on racial inequality and police violence.
“It’s been a long time. Like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and now we’re all coming together… everybody in the world. It’s truly amazing to see this,” Akorkwag said.
They’re all resolute in believing that in order to see change, people must continue raising their voices.
Hundreds attended the Banff event. Local RCMP said they received a 911 call at the rally about bear spray, but found it was accidentally triggered when a protestor with the cannister in his pocket bent over. No charges are being pressed.