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Double standard? Calgary rally organizer irked that a public education event was denied a permit

Calgarians wanting to hold a socially-distanced public education rally while adhering to public health rules, have been denied, according to an organizer.

Earlier this month, Alberta stepped back in its relaxation of public health rules due to rising COVID-19 numbers.

This hasn’t stopped some groups from continuing to host their own rallies, said Krista Li, public education advocate.

Li has been trying get the city to permit her to host a rally on public education.

“We thought that Olympic Plaza would be an awesome location to host an outdoor rally,” said Li.

Wearing masks and social distancing would have been expected of everyone, she said. Event organizers followed all the appropriate processes.

“We found out yesterday that we were denied,” said Li.

Li said it’s frustrating because others, such as anti-mask protesters, are still continuing their marches.

“I would hope that they’re going through the appropriate processes,” said Li.

“That’s what we’re doing, that’s what anybody in the city should be doing if they plan to use city property.”

The City of Calgary is not currently giving rally permits due to the restrictions, they told LiveWire Calgary.

Allowing one, but not the other?

Li questions why Calgary Police are not arresting other protesters then.

“If that’s the case then why are anti-maskers permitted to maraud about the streets,” said Li.

“Someone’s alerted the police, I mean the police know about it, so the police are there,” she said.

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) said “the role of the [CPS] at large gathering events, is to ensure the safety of the public and keep the peace.”

“Our actions—at the more than 700 protests we police annually—are always driven by our duty to protect public safety.”  

Li announced her intention to attend a protest on public education a few weeks prior via Facebook.

“Within a very short timeframe, I got a Facebook message from the police,” she said.

The message asked that she call a specific officer, which she did. That officer asked her questions about the event, she said.

“I was told that I had better send off everything I had about that protest to this police officer,” said Li.

She declined his request as she was not the organizer.

The CPS said that “occasionally our officers do reach out to individuals via various social media platforms. In instances such as this, we frequently attempt to speak to parties involved in protests.”

“This helps us determine location, timing, and how we can mitigate any potential safety or traffic concerns.”

Li has no interest in breaking the law. However, she wants the police to do something about other unauthorized events.

“Of course, we want to abide by the city’s rules,” said Li.

“The right to protest is a fundamentally protected right. Either everyone gets to use that or nobody gets to use that.”