Pro-Palestine rally marches down 17th Avenue despite letter from police

Hundreds of pro-Palestine protestors marched down 17th Avenue S.W. on Sunday, despite Calgary police officers advising them not to. Global News

Hundreds of pro-Palestine protestors marched down 17th Avenue S.W. on Sunday, despite Calgary police officers advising them not to.

According to a social media post by Calgary Police Service, around 400 protestors marched from Tomkins Park downtown to 14th Street S.W. then 4th Street S.W. before returning to the park on Sunday afternoon.

Police said crowd sizes of up to 400 people were observed throughout the rally, which started at the park at 1 p.m. Minor temporary intersection closures were implemented to protect the safety of protestors, police said.

The Calgary Police Service said the majority of demonstrators were cooperative and behaved lawfully, peacefully and respectfully. Police also said most of the protestors walked along the sidewalks and did not impede traffic.

The protest ended at around 5 p.m., police said.

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This comes after the Calgary Police Service published a letter on Friday asking protestors to avoid the area around Tomkins Park.

In the letter, the CPS said it has worked with organizers to balance their rights to protest and the “potential negative impacts on the greater community” since October. However, police said there were disagreements between officers and the organizers.

Calgary police also said in the letter officers reported “a decrease in cooperation” from some of the participants, including “intentionally disruptive behaviour” such as blocking roadways.

“For a variety of reasons, including concerns regarding crowd size and potential disruption to local businesses, shoppers and residents, we have clearly communicated that this is not a suitable location,” the letter read.

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“We have also continued to state that we are willing to work with community groups to facilitate safe, lawful demonstrations in locations such as the Municipal and Olympic (plazas), that can accommodate them, taking into consideration the potential for adverse impacts on other Calgarians. Regardless, the organizers are insistent that they will gather at Tomkins Park. We do not endorse this location and we will police the event as necessary by enforcing the Criminal Code and other statutes to protect the community and ensure public safety.”

In a post on Facebook Friday, Justice for Palestinians described the CPS letter as “veiled threats” and said organizers have visited businesses in the area to “reassure them” of the cause.

“We received warm support from businesses who will welcome our presence tomorrow afternoon,” the Facebook post said.

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