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Justice grants City of Calgary temporary injunction against downtown protests

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary granted temporary injunction to deal with continued protests' City of Calgary granted temporary injunction to deal with continued protests
WATCH: Calgary’s police commission met on Friday to discuss plans to deal with continued protests downtown while the city has been granted a temporary injunction to address the demonstrations. Adam MacVicar reports. – Mar 18, 2022

An Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice has granted the City of Calgary a temporary injunction to help address ongoing protests in the Beltline and elsewhere in Calgary, effective starting Friday.

The City of Calgary applied for the temporary injunction on Friday due to the continuing and intensifying nature of the protests, raising concerns from city officials and police. The compounding impact of community disruptions, escalating behaviour and clear intentions from participants to continue were also cited as reasons for the temporary injunction.

The injunction prohibits protesters from:

  • Blocking traffic on roads and on sidewalks, including walking in the middle of roadways and preventing vehicles and pedestrians from lawfully passing by or accessing amenities in the area.
  • Gathering in a park which unreasonably disturbs the use or enjoyment of the park. This includes hosting events without a permit.
  • Conducting commercial activity in a park, including the operation of vendor stands in Central Memorial Park or other areas without a permit.
  • The unnecessary sounding of horns or other audible warning devices, including air horns and megaphones.

The injunction also grants law enforcement permission to arrest anybody who is violating the order if officers have reasonable grounds to believe so. The person can then be held in custody pending an appearance before the courts.

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The injunction will remain in place until a permanent injunction application is heard by the court. Community protests and events can still occur if the organizers comply with city bylaw requirements and secure permits, which the city said participants failed to do.

Read more: Calgary police chief addresses response to weekend protests in Beltline neighbourhood

The temporary injunction comes after participants clashed with counter-protesters in the Beltline on Saturday, which created a blockage on 17 Avenue for around an hour.

The weekly protests were initially against the public health measures, then the COVID-19 vaccine and then the government as a whole.

Calgary police say officers have been engaging with organizers to set clear expectations now that the temporary injunction has been granted. Police are also prepared to enforce the temporary injunction before, during and after the event by using tactics such as road closures.

Police are prepared to arrest anybody violating the terms laid out in the injunction, Chief Mark Neufeld said.

“There will be no marching tomorrow, there will be no mobile protest and there will be nobody behaving that way in the Beltline,” Neufeld said during a special Calgary Police Commission meeting on Friday.

Read more: ‘Pushing the limits’: CPS chief calls for calm ahead of Beltline weekend rally

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Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she is pleased that the injunction was granted, applauding the leadership from the City of Calgary in applying for the injunction.

“I’m pleased that this injunction was granted and will allow the Calgary Police Service to have another tool available to effectively address ongoing disruptions in the Beltline community,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said in a statement on Friday.

“The ongoing protests in the Beltline have greatly impacted and compromised the safety, well-being and daily life of residents, visitors and businesses.”

The Beltline Neighbourhoods Association also supported the injunction, encouraging people who were planning on counter-protesting on Saturday to come and visit businesses that were affected by the protests.

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“By enjoying the Beltline together, we reclaim it for our residents and all Calgarians,” wrote the association in a tweet on Friday.

But a spokesperson for Community Solidarity YYC, the group holding the counter-protests, cast doubt on the CPS’ abilities to address the protests.

“We remain doubtful that the CPS will meaningfully address the activities of the “Freedom” parade… We will be peacefully assembling at Lougheed House tomorrow at 1pm. We intend to discuss the impacts these ongoing hate parades have had on residents.

Calgary Police Commission chair Shawn Cornett said Calgarians need to hold CPS accountable and the commission will be amplifying that work after this weekend.

“We need to make sure that people see that we are doing the work that we’ve had been appointed to do,” Cornett said.

Click to play video: 'Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld discusses possible new guidelines for weekend protests' Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld discusses possible new guidelines for weekend protests
Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld discusses possible new guidelines for weekend protests – Mar 16, 2022

“If the Calgary Police are unwilling to protect residents yet again, it is highly likely that attendees will consider a response,” Hunter Yaworski, Community Solidarity YYC spokesperson, said.

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Jake Eskesen, a spokesperson of the so-called “freedom” protesters, said the injunction is an example of “unprecedented anti-democratic actions” taken by the City of Calgary.

“The injunction will not deter those who wish to exercise their charter rights. We are prepared for enforcement, protesters have dealt with it in the past and it never weakened our resolve,” Eskesen said.

Click to play video: 'Council outlines concerns with Beltline protests in letter to Calgary Police Commission' Council outlines concerns with Beltline protests in letter to Calgary Police Commission
Council outlines concerns with Beltline protests in letter to Calgary Police Commission – Mar 15, 2022

CPS aware of alleged white supremacist ties

Neufeld said CPS is aware that some participants in previous protests have connections to white supremacist groups.

“When we have had knowledge of individuals from those types of groups participating in these protests, there has been attention paid to them,” Neufeld said.

The comment comes after various social media posts reported a protestor allegedly donning patches belonging to Diagolon, an accelerationist and neo-fascist militia with a sizeable support base across Canada, according to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

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It also comes after several social media reports of vendors allegedly handing out and selling white supremacist paraphernalia.

When asked what efforts are being made to minimize harm towards Black, Indigenous and other racialized residents, Neufeld said attention has been paid to these individuals.

“If any individuals commit an offence that would have been arrestable… We would certainly look to do that,” Neufeld said.

–With files from Adam MacVicar, Global News

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