Beltline residents and anti-government anti-mandate protesters engaged in a tense standoff along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday.
Counter-protesters, fed up with the regular Saturday marches through the Beltline, put a plan into place to prevent that march from passing in front of Western Canada High School.
Thousands of anti-government, anti-mandate protesters marching along what they have come to call Freedom Mile, were met by around 100 of the counter-protesters and dozens of police officers.
Things turned tense during the protests as anti-government, anti-mask marchers at one point broke a police line, leading police to physically push back counter-protesters with bikes. Counter-protesters joined arm-in-arm to resist the move, although this led to these individuals being boxed in by anti-government, anti-mandate protesters.
The Calgary Police Service brought in additional officers around 3 p.m. to protect the counter-protesters as a channel on the north side of 17 Avenue SW was opened to allow the march to continue. Several small scuffles broke out as police again used their bicycles to prevent counter-protesters from blocking the march.
‘Go home’ disappointing: Beltline president
Post protest, the reaction from members of the Beltline community was not positive towards the police service.
President of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, Peter Oliver, wrote on twitter that he was “disappointed by the number of [police officers] who told me residents should just go home.”
Mayor Jyoti Gondek posted to social media in the evening addressing the protests, stating that “by waiting for this to die out, enforcement agencies have allowed it to grow.”
“And while Council has no formal ability to direct the police or other enforcement bodies, we can be vocal and stand with our fellow Calgarians,” she said.
“It is important to be cognizant that these demonstrations occurred over several hours and individual photos and short video clips do not always portray the complete picture,” wrote the statement.
The service claimed that they worked with all parties to attempt to negotiate an alternative, but that said that “after receiving limited cooperation and recognizing the volatility of the situation, officers had to take action to avoid further escalation of the crowd and to minimize the disruption to nearby residents and businesses.”
Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, speaking as a member of the Calgary Police Commission, said that he stands with Mayor Gondek.
“I will be working with my fellow Commissioners to use today’s unacceptable incident as the moment where we stand with our citizens and definitively change our collective response,” he said.
Tensions rise as protests meet
Counter-protesters pushed back to allow marchers through