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Calgary mum on police action related to Beltline protests

Coun. Courtney Walcott said councillors heard a lot about ‘the why’ behind the Calgary police work at ongoing Beltline protests.

They met in a scheduled closed-door session with the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and Calgary police commission members Tuesday, as part of the Combined Meeting of Council.

Members approved a plain public release of Calgary Police support in response to protests. It outlined six areas that would see CPS support.  It didn’t provide a lot of additional details.

Walcott said the briefing was good for communication, but it doesn’t address the ongoing problem in the Beltline.

“My expectation of satisfaction, what will be required for me to feel satisfied, would honestly be that residents of all stripes would feel heard enough that they can feel like the represented and can go home, can live in their neighborhoods can enjoy the streets, can express their feelings about the political atmosphere without damaging the relationships that we have with our residents in their own communities,” he said.

Meanwhile, complaints to Calgary 311 spiked again on Saturday. Two weeks ago, Walcott encouraged residents to voice their concerns to start getting a baseline of evidence.

Walcott said it’s a difficult situation for Calgary police. The protests are evolving each week; single protests and marches to passive counter-protests to the counter-protesters blocking the main protest.

“The outcome, the goal of everything within the CPS, of course, is the safety of all of the citizens involved, including those around the protests and within the protests,” he said.

“I think really, the message needs to be clear. And the communication needs to be very clear about what it is everybody wants out of this, including the residents, including the public, and including myself.”

Everyone has the right to protest: Walcott

Walcott said he believes in everyone’s right to protest. It should just be done while not infringing on the rights of others.

“The question is always going to become how we do so in a way that limits the infringement on other people's freedoms,” he said.

For the second week in a row, protesters and counter-protesters met along 17 Avenue SW. But, Mayor Jyoti Gondek didn’t like the “counter-protester” description.

“I don't particularly care for the characterization of counter-protesters,” she said.

“Many of those folks that are labeled as counter-protesters actually live and work in the Beltline. They are residents, they are business owners. I think if we want to focus on the fact that there was a protest that's disrupting this neighbourhood, let's not call the people who live and work there counter-protesters.”

No further details on Calgary police action, or what’s expected next, were released.