With another set of protests in response to the ongoing Middle East conflict planned for Calgary’s Municipal Plaza on Sunday, the Calgary Police Service has a message to people planning on attending.
“As police, our role is to facilitate lawful and peaceful and safe demonstrations while minimizing impact to the community,” CPS Supt. Joe Brar said on Friday. “We have a responsibility to protect participants, the community and the police working to keep everyone safe.”
Brar said police have clear expectations of protesters while they exercise their right to demonstrate in a lawful manner.
“Prohibiting the safe movement of motor vehicles on major thoroughfares and blocking access routes to necessary services will be addressed by our officers under the applicable law,” he said.
Recent protests have spilled out into Macleod Trail, with some protesters being arrested after sitting in the middle of the intersection with Fourth Avenue Southeast. Another protest had a police-escorted march temporarily halt traffic on the Fifth Avenue flyover and Reconciliation Bridge.
“Generally everybody’s been co-operative. But like I said, there are some individuals that choose not to co-operate and we’ll address those individuals,” the police superintendent said.
The protests have generally been divided along pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian lines, but Brar said some people of other movements have been taking part.
He said the Israeli airstrikes that followed the end of a weeklong truce would likely colour Sunday’s events.
“What happens overseas does generally tend to impact what happens here locally in Canada and in Calgary,” Brar said. “There was the end to the ceasefire. Knowing that, we’ve worked closely with the organizers to ensure that we still have a shared vision on this (demonstration).”
Police are asking for patience from Calgarians not directly involved with the protests and urged people to watch the Calgary police social media channels for updates.
“With any large gathering in a downtown environment, we expect temporary disruptions in surrounding areas.”