March 27, 2017 5:56 pm
Updated: March 27, 2017 11:54 pm

Soldiers of Odin clash with anti-racism demonstrators in Vancouver

WATCH: Members of the Soldiers of Odin were arrested after they crashed an anti-racism rally in Vancouver over the weekend. Paul Johnson sat down with both sides of the debate.

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Police are investigating after an ugly confrontation at an anti-racism demonstration in Vancouver Sunday afternoon.

Organizers of the event say the Soldiers of Odin, an international organization that’s allegedly anti-immigration, showed up to intimidate the crowd.

Cellphone video from the event shows people in black sweaters fighting with those who had gathered in Victory Square in downtown Vancouver.

PHOTO GALLERY: 

Vancouver police officers stepped in and arrested three people. The three people arrested identified themselves as members of the Soldiers of Odin.

They were later released without charges.

Concerns were raised about the B.C. chapter of the Soldiers of Odin in September after the group posted videos of its members walking the streets of Vancouver, an activity it described as “a neighbourhood watch-based activity with a focus on the safety of women, children and the elderly.”

WATCH: Soldiers of Odin attend rally

The group claims to be protecting the public, but Alan Dutton of the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society is skeptical about the Canadian chapter’s motives.

“We have every reason to be concerned,” he said in a September interview with Global News.

 

The Canadian chapters share the same name with an anti-immigration group that originated in Finland in 2015 amid the refugee crisis in Europe.

“There’s real concern about the various chapters of the Soldiers of Odin and certainly in Europe,” Dutton said.

WATCH MORE: Soldiers of Odin in Vancouver

“There are connections — a clear-cut connection —  that have been reported between this group and racist organizations.”

Soldiers of Odin Canada claims it is independent and denies any links to neo-Nazi groups and biker gangs.

On his Facebook page, Soldiers of Odin national president Joel Angott said: “it is our hope that in time citizens of all races and religions come to see the peaceful nature of our activities.”

~ with files from Jon Azpiri

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