Weekend clash in Calgary’s Falconridge neighbourhood a ‘planned, targeted attack’: police chief

Click to play video: 'Calgary police chief responds to weekend violence in Falconridge'
Calgary police chief responds to weekend violence in Falconridge
WATCH: Calgary's police chief speaks out about a violent clash, describing the scene as a very dangerous environment for both members of the community and the officers who responded. Ina Sidhu reports. – Sep 5, 2023

The violent clash that included Calgary’s Falconridge neighbourhood on Saturday afternoon was the result of a “planned, targeted attack,” police Chief Mark Neufeld said Tuesday, adding it was not a protest.

He said there were two concurrent events being hosted by members of Calgary’s Eritrean community, both peaceful in nature, and Neufeld said the attendees at those events are not to blame for the violent clash.

“This is really the largest violent event to happen in our city in recent memory, if you think about the numbers of people that were involved in this,” the police chief said.

“We believe that the situation is linked to ongoing conflict involving some members of the Eritrean community and is related to similar events we’ve seen transpire around the world, across Canada and right here in Alberta.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary police chief updates ongoing investigation into Eritrean group clash'
Calgary police chief updates ongoing investigation into Eritrean group clash

There is growing anger and opposition among some sections of the Eritrean diaspora over the government of Eritrea and the situation in the northeast African country.

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The police chief believed a small number of people wanted the conflict to happen, despite any advice they may have received from community elders.

Neufeld said the conflict was in an area outside of the cultural events and in an area that was not anticipated, earlier than expected.

But he said after clashes in Toronto and Edmonton, Calgary police anticipated a similar conflict could happen in this city.

Click to play video: 'Over 150 people involved in ‘violent conflict’ in northeast Calgary Saturday'
Over 150 people involved in ‘violent conflict’ in northeast Calgary Saturday

“The police service has very strong relationships with all the communities, including the Eritrean community,” Neufeld said. “We worked directly with the event organizers prior to the events to ensure safety for the community and to try to ease tensions between the involved groups.”

Neufeld said officers who first arrived at the fight were met with a situation they lacked all the equipment for, while some involved in the clash had shields and helmets.

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Click to play video: 'Professor weighs in on Edmonton Eritrean festival clashes'
Professor weighs in on Edmonton Eritrean festival clashes

He said all 12 who went to hospital after the conflict were directly involved, with no bystanders or police injured.

Neufeld said residents and business owners in the immediate area who had nothing to do with the situation are among the victims of Saturday’s events.

“The violence involved here was very, very serious,” he said.

“We do not anticipate any further violence. However, rest assured we will respond accordingly if it does.

“I would say the (Eritrean) community wants to work with the police. I think the community, historically, has not been a violent community and it’s not been a community that’s actually been tied into this type of violence at this level in our community. So I don’t think it’s anything anybody wanted to see happen,” Neufeld said.

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“I think it’s something that has boiled over, and so hopefully it’s hit its boiling point and there will be work that actually sort of takes down the temperature.”

The police chief expected the investigation to take some time, given the nearly 150 involved in the incident.

Neufeld asked for any information about the incident, including photos, videos and social media posts, to be shared with police via the CPS non-emergency line at 403-266-1234 or anonymously via Crime Stoppers.

On Monday, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek called Saturday’s clash “incredibly troubling” and thanked Calgary police for having a plan to handle the violence that quickly escalated.

“I think we’re all very aware that global politics does play out in local venues as well, but we need to make sure that it’s not doing this in a violent way,” Gondek told Global News.


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