Braid: Overt, organized racism is taking shape in Calgary under cover of COVID-19

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Jyoti Gondek, the Calgary city councillor for Ward 3, lit up social media recently after she saw video of racists parading downtown.

“I’m broken today,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Soldiers of Odin walk the streets of my city, filled with hate for people like me, while so many silently watch it happen.”

The thing that got her was the boldness, she told me afterward. Far from being ashamed or even uneasy, these so-called Soldiers of Odin and Proud Boys are happy to be identified.

“At least the KKK wore masks,” Gondek said bitterly, referring to the notoriously vicious U.S. racists.

“It’s not OK for people like that to march around my city,” she told video host Ryan Jesperson. “This is my city, too. You can’t march with that kind of hate.”

The councillor perceptively notes that serious problems such as racism are festering under cover of COVID-19.

The crisis is so all-consuming in its many forms — mental health, unemployment, the virus itself — that many people shy away from other worries.

But, Gondek asks, want to scare away investment? Just give people elsewhere the idea that Calgary is a racist city.

“The economic argument in and of itself should be enough for everybody. You need to show you’re a place where everyone is welcome.”

Gondek says she’s looking to the business community for more anti-racism leadership.

After she posted her tweet, the councillor was overwhelmed by supportive responses.

That pleased her. She didn’t stay broken for long.

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