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Video of arrest at Calgary rink results in accusations of police ‘going overboard’

Click to play video: 'Video of arrest at Calgary community rink results in accusations of police ‘going overboard’' Video of arrest at Calgary community rink results in accusations of police ‘going overboard’
WATCH: A caught-on-tape encounter at a southwest Calgary rink is highlighting the stress and frustration around COVID-19. Police and bylaw officers came to disperse a group of young people they say were disobeying the regulations. As Jill Croteau reports, the situation exploded when one of the people involved was taken into custody – Dec 18, 2020

An arrest caught on camera has left one Calgary family wondering if police went too far. Twelve-year-old Rayan Sanoubar was skateboarding at a Southwood community rink and captured parts of the encounter on video.

It started on Thursday afternoon when bylaw officers responded to reports of 40-plus people crowding the Southwood community rink and skatepark.

“A peace officer came sat in this car and got out and… told skateboarders we have to go and [we’re] not allowed to be there and we all refused, and he called for backup for other police to come,” Sanoubar said.
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The video shows one person down on the ground and several police officers around. The person in police custody is heard yelling profanities and said, “Where’s our freedom? These police are handcuffing me, we are outside.”

“They had him on the ground for six minutes, just frozen, cutting his skates off with a knife. They arrested him and threatened us saying, ‘We are going to give you tickets if you don’t walk away,'” Sanoubar said.

READ MORE: Alberta reports record-breaking 30 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, 1,571 new cases

Corwin Odland, with CPS public affairs, said people refused to disperse from an outdoor skating area after being advised that they were violating public health orders.

“When our officers arrived, they spoke to the same people about the health orders and several left without incident,” Odland said.

“However, one individual became confrontational and refused to follow the officers’ direction.

“When told he was being ticketed for not leaving, he refused to identify himself and skated away from the officers.”

Police said the individual refused to identify himself when asked to do so by an officer. He was charged with obstruction of justice.

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“The officers explained this legal requirement to the man and tried multiple times to get him to voluntarily step off the ice and comply with their orders before they moved in to physically take him into custody. At this point, a struggle ensued and an officer was knocked to the ground,” Odland said.

Supt. Ryan Ayliffe said police will focus on compassion in these situations but will not tolerate people who don’t want to comply.

“We are seeing officers continually put into these untenable positions where they have to diffuse and support bylaw,” Ayliffe said. “What’s happening through our lens is good people are trying to find pieces of what they want to do in a changing environment and it is stressing people out to the max.”

A 21-year-old man was charged with obstructing an officer, resisting arrest and violating the public health act.

Rayan Sanoubar, who took the video at the rink, and his mother, Roula Aboukhodoud, spoke to Global News. Jill Croteau / Global News

Sanoubar’s mother, Roula Aboukhodoud, said she doesn’t condone the disrespect but doesn’t agree with the police tactics.

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“They should have talked to the children first explain why the bylaws are in place and how they really need to be social distancing.”

“For being outside and having fun, they should not do anything and leave it alone. We are just out here skating and social distancing,” Sanoubar said.

“It’s frustration, big time. They felt like they were doing nothing wrong and enjoying themselves and having fun and everybody is frustrated with COVID,” Aboukhodoud said.

Read more: COVID-19: Calgary mayor offers New Year’s wishes, Christmas season safety reminders

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said rinks are open but there are rules in place.

“You can go to the outdoor rinks with your family cohort, the people who live in your house.

“If there are other people on the rink, you don’t have to go home,” Nenshi said. “But you shouldn’t really start lots of big games of pick-up hockey with people around you. There’s body contact and you don’t want to be doing that.”

Calgary emergency management agency chief Sue Henry said it’s about the ability to maintain two metres of distance from those who are not in your household.

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“You’ll see most of the rink operators have placed a capacity sign somewhere near where you would enter the ice,” Henry said.

“Those capacity signs are based on what they believe the most safe approach to having a number of people on the ice is.”

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