Protesters were removed from the Calgary municipal building after a prayer circle conducted by members of a group during the lunch recess of city council.
Earlier in the day, Calgary police, City of Calgary corporate security and Alberta Sheriffs were in full force at the municipal building in anticipation of an advertised protest. Nothing much happened in the morning, though, as only a handful of protesters braved the bitter cold.
At lunch, a group of roughly 15 gathered inside just east of the main municipal building doors. They gathered there, with security close by, before being asked to leave. Words were exchanged, but ultimately the situation was diffused.
The City of Calgary had posted bylaw notices on the front doors outlining rules for gatherings inside the municipal building. There have been press conferences and other gatherings in contravention of those bylaws in recent weeks. Protesters can gather in the City Hall plaza outside.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said there’s been a rise in protests recently that have morphed into something they haven’t really seen in the past.
“Our teams at the city raised the flag that there would be a potential protest and they took precautionary measures to make sure that the public was well protected, given that’s our responsibility as a local government,” Mayor Gondek said of the security showing.
When asked if the security response was “overkill”, Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said that wasn’t the right characterization.
“More importantly, what we heard from our city manager was that they were alerted to potential protests,” said Wong.
“As to the magnitude, size and number of people, nobody knew exactly how many, so it’s a precautionary task.”
Wong said he didn’t feel threatened or concerned for his safety in light of the protests.
“Personally, no. But then again, I know how to take care of myself,” Wong said.
“Every councillor knows the risks that they are exposed to. They know the precautions they can take and how to secure themselves.
Security is often a proactive thing, based on intel they received. Sometimes it doesn’t materialize, he said.