A day after a Confederate flag was spotted flying over Calgary’s Union Cemetery more people are coming forward with their concerns.
“There’s a lot of people hurt by it,” said lawyer and Anti-Racism Action Committee co-chair Nyall DaBreo. “To go through those steps to display an image associated with hate groups, at the very least, it just shows how vile some people can be to their fellow community members.”
A person reported the hate symbol in the graveyard, located at Cemetery Road and Spiller Road S.E., to police before 7 p.m.
Someone took the Confederate flag down by the time officers arrived, and police recovered it from a garbage can.
The hate crimes unit of the Calgary Police Service is now investigating.
“While the possession and display of a Confederate flag is not in itself a crime, it is believed there was another flag on the flagpole that was removed so the offensive flag could be raised,” a statement from CPS read.
“There are often times where symbols make people in the community feel like they are being targeted for ill treatment or excluded from society,” Acting Det. Craig Collins said in the statement. “While we can’t legally stop people from displaying these symbols, we can address it if people are committing crimes in the process.”
“I think ultimately, anytime you have these conversations, they fall into conversations that protect free speech,” DaBreo said. “I don’t they’re gonna say it’s a hate crime, the chance of prosecuting that I think is pretty slim.”
“I think unless there’s some legislation that outlaws certain depictions or displaying certain imagery, then it’s going to be very unlikely to truly get to the threshold of a criminal conviction.”
Frank Towers an associate professor of history at the University of Calgary said its important people do their research before re-appropriating elements of U.S. history in Canada.
“To see it here in Calgary, is distressing and disappointing,” he said. “I’d urge folks who have some nostalgia for it, to go and read some of the speeches made by its leading advocates.”
“You take the vice-president of Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, he said ‘slavery is the cornerstone of our republic’.”
So far, no has come forward to take responsibility for putting the flag up and there’s been no word on any arrests.
“No one knows who put that flag up,” DaBreo said. “That could be anyone’s boss… and they hide behind closed doors… and it just makes people feel unsafe.”
-with files from Melissa Gilligan and Kaylen Small