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Backlash grows after Walk for Freedom protesters seen carrying torches in Calgary

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Many are condemning Saturday’s Walk for Freedom rally in Calgary after protesters were seen carrying torches. Jackie Wilson reports – Feb 28, 2021

There was another Walk for Freedom protest in Calgary on Sunday.

This one was much smaller than the previous day, where protesters came out in big numbers and some carried tiki torches.

“We all saw what happened in Charlottesville, [Virginia] south of the border. The tiki torch became a global symbol for hate,” said Kay L, Black Lives Matter Calgary executive director.

“When we see people running around our city with tiki torches, Confederate flags, Proud Boys and Trump 2024 jackets, it says a lot.”

Read more: Hundreds gather for anti-mask rally in Edmonton

Kay L was a counter-protester at Saturday’s rally.

“The tension was extremely high,” he said. “The whole point of us going out was to resist this type of hatred.”

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When the protests started months ago, they were focused on COVID-19 restrictions and mask requirements, but the tone has been changing and the reaction was swift, with municipal and provincial politicians publically condemning these actions.

That included Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal, who said he’s disgusted by the sight of tiki torches at protests, calling it an overt display of hate meant to make people of colour feel afraid and unwelcome.

Twitter / George Chahal
Twitter / Rachel Notley
Twitter / Jyoti Gondek
Twitter / Jeff Davison

The Calgary Police Service was present at both weekend rallies.

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In a Twitter statement, CPS said: “We do not condone the actions of those who choose to display symbols connected with hate and also find it extremely distasteful.”

“However, under the Criminal Code, there are very specific thresholds that have to be met to lay charges in relation to inciting hate. We had officers at the event gathering evidence, and we will be liaising with Crown prosecutions in the coming days.”

In a statement to Global News on Monday, Walk for Freedom organizer Brad Carrigan said the nature of the Walk for Freedome was “peaceful” and said the use of tiki torches has “little if anything to do with white supremacy or racism.”

“This silly narrative started during the anti-Trump movement in the USA and has now bled into Canada as a way for politicians to control and spin a narrative,” said Carrigan.

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