The Calgary Police Service says it strongly condemns racism and hate, releasing a statement Sunday after more anti-lockdown protests over the weekend.
Police said there was a “verbal and physical confrontation” between two groups away from a protest on an unidentified date.
Officers “disrupted the commotion and spoke with both groups.” Police said no one co-operated to pursue the matter further, so no charges were laid.
Police said they were present at protests on Saturday and Sunday with the goal of maintaining peace.
“During the protests, however, some offensive messages of intolerance and disrespect were seen,” police said.
“As with previous demonstrations, we were also there to gather evidence in relation to compliance with health orders to enable us to address any issues at a time that is more conducive to public and officer safety.”
Finding a balance between freedom of expression, public safety and the impact of the rallies is “extremely challenging,” CPS said.
“Like so many of the most important issues of the day, we cannot police ourselves out of this one. We do not have the powers to arrest individuals engaging in actions that are offensive or objectionable,” police said.
“Our enforcement of hate speech and related symbols is limited by the Criminal Code of Canada.”
Unless something causes a breach of peace, it is “extremely rare for even the most offensive views to meet the legal threshold for criminal charges,” police explained.
“In fact, the threshold is so high that charges can only be laid with the prior approval of the attorney general of Canada,” officers said.
CPS said: “There should be no mistaking that the limitations placed on us legally do not mean that morally we condone these acts.”