Calgary police investigating threat towards LGBTQ2S+ community

The Calgary Police Service is investigating a gun threat made towards the LGBTQ2S+ community, a spokesperson has confirmed. Getty Images

The Calgary Police Service is investigating a threat made towards the LGBTQ2S+ community, a spokesperson has confirmed.

GSA Alta., a gay-straight alliance that operates all over Alberta, published a tweet on Thursday afternoon about an alleged gun threat directed at the LGBTQ2S+ community.

According to the non-profit, there have been threats made against organizers of a counter-protest that was scheduled outside of Signal Hill Public Library on March 13, ahead of a Reading with Royalty event on March 15.

The family-friendly event is led by local drag queens or kings, and children are invited to dress in their best outfit, cape or crown.

“Currently there is a gun threat directed at our Community and this protest. CPS has been informed and is investigating,” the tweet read.

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In a statement posted Thursday evening, GSA Alta. said its team got involved after it was informed of an alleged threat made in a social media video.

The speaker apparently addresses the Calgary Police Service.

The person allegedly said if police do not defend the protesters, they will defend themselves and “will not come unarmed.” He also appears to promise “there will be blood.”

That video prompted GSA Alta. to advise against attending a counter-protest, “as it is very unsafe for our community.

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“Later Thursday, our team got wind that the Calgary Police Service had been contacted and is investigating,” the group wrote.

On Friday, police confirmed to Global News part of the investigation of recent threats made to the city’s LGBTQ2S+ community were made on a social media platform.

“Threats of violence will not be tolerated, and this incident is currently under investigation with many units engaged across the service,” CPS said in a statement. “We want to reassure community members that everyone has the right to feel safe in our city, and we continue to work with event organizers, participants and everyone in attendance to ensure the safety of all involved.”

The threats come as hate crimes against the LGBTQ2S+ community have been on the rise. Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 64-per cent uptick in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation, according to Statistics Canada.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network executive director Evan Balgord told Global News in February that while the protests are targeting drag events, the rhetoric is generally homophobic and transphobic.

Click to play video: 'Protests continue in Calgary over transgender change rooms and drag events'
Protests continue in Calgary over transgender change rooms and drag events

CPS Supt. Joe Brar told Global News anti-LGBTQ2S+ protests have escalated over the past few months, resulting in cancellations of 14 events such as the Calgary Public Library’s Reading with Royalty event, drag brunches and shows at Chinook Blast.

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“It’s escalated from what would be acceptable or expected in a protest or a demonstration to what is obviously intended to be harassment and intimidation and breach of the peace and all those things, under the guise of a protest,” Brar said on March 3.

It is unclear if the Alberta government is directing specific attention to the safety of LGBTQ2S+ members and allies.

When asked at a news conference about gang violence on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said the safety of all Albertans is important.

“Everybody has a right to freedom of assembly. Everybody has, you know, a right to make sure that they are in a safe and inclusive environment,” Ellis told reporters.

“This is why we make sure that the federal government, provincial government, municipal governments, that they are actively making sure that the appropriate laws are in place to protect people’s rights.

“Our friends in the LGBT community have the right to get together. They have a right to freedom of assembly, and I certainly respect that right.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary sees more protests against LGBTQ2+ community'
Calgary sees more protests against LGBTQ2+ community

Calgary Public Library communications director Mary Kapusta told QR Calgary that library staff are working with security teams to ensure the safety of Reading with Royalty patrons and LGBTQ2S+ members.

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She noted that the library has been hosting Reading with Royalty events for five years and the protests are unacceptable.

“We’re always going to work with our security, the Calgary Police Service and our partners to ensure the safety of all members of our community,” Kapusta said.

“We are watching closely the conversations that are happening… We remain committed that our spaces are safe and welcoming to our community.”

— with files from Adam Toy, Global News

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