A man has been charged in connection with an assault at an anti-racism rally in Red Deer, Alta., in late September and charges are pending against another man as RCMP confirm they’re investigating multiple “criminal incidents” at the event.
One of the groups that organized the event, Red Deer Against Racism, told CBC News the goal of the event at Rotary Recreation Park on Sept. 20 was to hear from Black and Indigenous people, people of colour and others from different ethnicities.
But before organizers had even started the event, counter-protesters showed up with megaphones. The event’s volunteer security team attempted to build a human wall so the counter-protesters wouldn’t disturb the rally, but it was breached and violent clashes broke out, prompting organizers to cancel the event.
Video captured of one of the clashes, which was widely shared on social media, shows a man quickly approach another man and ram the side of his head with both hands.
- Watch the video below to see what happened as the Red Deer anti-racism demonstration turned violent.
The victim’s sunglasses flew off of his face, but it’s unclear whether he fell to the ground.
Before he was hit, the victim had just pulled out some documents and was looking at them, and didn’t see his attacker coming.
It’s been reported the victim was serving a restraining order on a man when he was hit.
The assault occurred before police arrived.
The Red Deer RCMP said Wednesday that the general investigation section (GIS) reviewed dozens of videos from the demonstration and interviewed a large number of witnesses, concluding that “three separate criminal incidents” had taken place at the demonstration.
Trevor Lyle Roy, 42, of Penhold, Alta. has been charged with assault and is to appear in Red Deer provincial court on Nov. 17, RCMP said in a release.
Another man faces a charge of assault with a weapon in a second incident but his name is being withheld by RCMP until he can be served.
A third incident uncovered by the RCMP reviewing video evidence remains under investigation.
RCMP analysts had scanned social media before the Sept. 20 event to “see what the chatter might be,” said Supt. Gerald Grobmeier, the officer in charge of Red Deer’s RCMP detachment.
“We certainly didn’t expect to see what we saw…. I don’t think anybody did,” Grobmeier said at a news conference a few days later.
Counter-protesters thwarted at later anti-racism rally
In response to the violence, Red Deer Against Racism and the Black and Indigenous Alliance held a rally in Red Deer this past weekend.
There was a heavy police presence at Sunday’s event, with several streets blocked off by RCMP.
Members of alt-right groups held a BBQ at the same time as the protest in Coronation Park.
At one point, six counter-protestors did get ahead of the anti-racism march in an attempt to confront marchers, but were quietly pushed back by RCMP officers who used their bikes as a barricade to prevent the counter-protesters from getting too close.
Shortly after the Oct. 20 incident in Red Deer, Alberta’s minister of justice and solicitor general, Kaycee Madu, urged the RCMP to get to the bottom of it.
“We must have the tools in place to ensure that peaceful protests do not become violent,” Madu said.
Just two weeks earlier, on Sept. 10 in Ponoka, just 55 kilometres from Red Deer, an anti-racism protester was struck by a vehicle during a heated demonstration.
A 38-year-old man was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Police said at the time they were investigating the collision as a hit and run.
Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.