CALGARY — A “notable” police presence is expected to keep a close eye Saturday on two groups — white supremacists and anti-racism activists — poised to clash on downtown Calgary streets.
Uniformed police officers on foot and bicycles plan to monitor the two demonstrations, said Calgary Police Service spokesman Kevin Brookwell.
“We anticipate there will be a lot of sign-waving and screaming and yelling back and forth,” Brookwell said.
“If it escalates beyond that, we’ll have to step in.”
Additional officers will be on standby to help if the protests get out of hand, he said.
Last year, about 150 activists organized by Anti-Racist Action Calgary confronted dozens of members of the Calgary-based Aryan Guard, who were participating in a white-pride march. The demonstration wound through the downtown core before ending in a screaming match on the steps of City Hall.
The white-supremacist group is planning a similar march Saturday. Anti-racists are pledging to once again meet the group head-on.
Both sides say they don’t want the confrontation to escalate into violence.
Unlike last year’s march, Nazi paraphernalia is strictly banned, and marchers are forbidden from drinking alcohol before the event, said Kyle McKee of the Aryan Guard.
“(We’re) just learning from mistakes from the past,” he said.
“Ideally, we’d like to see it eventually turn into a fairly mainstream thing. You just get your average Joe out there saying, ‘I’m proud to be white.’ ”
McKee said the group is expecting a larger presence than the 40 people who showed up to the march last year.
Members of the anti-racism group, meanwhile, have been mobilizing for weeks to prepare for the demonstration, which falls on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said Jason Devine.
“Saturday’s not just about confronting the Aryan Guard; it’s also celebrating our diversity, our unity,” he said. “We don’t think the Aryan Guard should get to march through the city unopposed.”