Video shows Calgary police officer shaking hands with anti-lockdown protester at weekend rally
CALGARY -- A video circulating on social media showing a uniformed Calgary police officer shaking hands with an organizer of the Walk for Freedom rallies has caused quite a mixed reaction online.
The unidentified officer is seen in a video, taken by one of the rally-goers Misty Wind, shaking hands and embracing Walk for Freedom organizer Brad Carrigan.
Police have not confirmed how many people attended the event at CF Chinook Centre on Saturday afternoon but several videos posted online indicate at least a couple hundred.
Cadillac Fairview, the owner-operator of the mall, told CTV News in a statement that it takes guests safety "very seriously," and did not approve the protest.
“At no time did CF Chinook Centre condone or give permission for this action,” said Cadillac Fairview spokesperson Janine Ramparas.
“As with any protest, these are fluid situations, and we do our best to manage them as safely as possible. Calgary Police Services (CPS) were onsite and supported our management team throughout the course of the incident.”
The mall operator says it will conduct a debrief of the events.
Malls and retail shops can only operate at 15 per cent capacity and have continued to stay open in recent months in Alberta.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra says the optics of the video do not look good for police.
"I was tagged on social media by people who are expressing outrage," he said. "Not just that these covidiots are walking through our malls and putting everyone in danger, but the light touch that the police are using on these people when very much in the news these days are police not using a similarly light touch on other people."
Carra says he plans on addressing the issue at the Feb. 23 Calgary Police Commission meeting.
He believes this is not just a public health mishap, but an even bigger problem, as he looks at rooting out systemic racism from the police force.
"On one hand, I applaud the police for establishing working relationships with these people," he said. "At the same time, people are right to call out potentially a double standard."
Carra says these sorts of rallies in shopping malls are dangerous for the workers.
"Their lives are being put at risk by people who seem incapable appreciating the fact that we are living in a global pandemic," he said.
Police issued a statement on Facebook about 6:45 p.m.
"On Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, an anti-mask protest took place at Chinook Mall where Calgary police officers from the public safety unit, beat teams and the Diversity Resources Team were in attendance. The Diversity Resources Team were on scene to try and negotiate the protesters leaving the mall peacefully. In doing so, the officer in the video was successful in this peaceful negotiation. At the end of this negotiation, a handshake was offered and accepted," it read.
"Another protester was nearby speaking into a bullhorn so the officer leaned in closer to hear what is being said. Shortly after this, the protesters dispersed and the situation is resolved without further disruption to the public. Our role at demonstrations such as these is to ensure public and officer safety, and for this reason, it is sometimes better to follow through with enforcement action post event. We commit to investigating the full scope of events in the coming days to determine what enforcement action may be taken."