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Calgary Police investigating mass violence in Falconridge between rival Eritrean factions

The Calgary Police Service said that they were investigating an incident of mass violence in the northeast community of Falconridge on Saturday evening, involving up to 150 people.

Police said they responded to reports of two groups engaged in violence at 5 p.m. on September 2.

“The Calgary Police Service considers this to be a serious event and has dedicated resources to keep the peace,” said CPS.

“This is not a protest. This is a violent conflict between two groups with opposing views.”

Police asked that Calgarians avoid the community while they investigate the incident.

“Our primary goal is to ensure public safety. We are working with the involved groups to maintain the peace.”

Individuals who witnessed the incident said that it involved supporters of rival political factions in the African country of Eritrea.

Similar spates of violence between rival groups have occurred in Edmonton and Toronto, and in Sweden and Israel.

This year was the 30th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia.

Calgary police closed Falconridge Boulevard in both directions during the incident, reopening it at 9 p.m.

Mayor Gondek thankful for the swift Calgary police response

When asked Sunday about the confrontation, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she was impressed by the response of the Calgary Police Service.

“Their mandate was to make sure that any violence was mitigated. They tried to keep the two sides apart so that the community wouldn’t be witnessing this type of violence,” she said.

“I think it’s really important to recognize that our … frontline responders are trying to do the best they can (when) situations like this start to escalate.”

The mayor said this isn’t an immigration issue here in Calgary. This is a situation where the politics of Calgarians’ home nation is playing out in the city.

Ward 5 Coun. Raj Dhaliwal said that he was quite shocked to hear about the level of confrontation, considering that Magnolia Hall in Falconridge is a community gathering space.

“You’ve got right to a gathering, you’ve got right to demonstrate – it has to happen peacefully,” Dhaliwal said.

“This was like CPS described, it was not even a protest. It was an event that was a violent event. That is not acceptable.”

Dhaliwal said that he’ll wait to hear from the Calgary police as to the motivation for the confrontation and if it was pre-meditated. If it was a pre-planned event, Dhaliwal said it’s even more disturbing.

“If it was spontaneous, then there’s a path forward.”

Dhaliwal also commented on an upswing in anti-immigrant sentiment in the past 24 hours since the incident.

“I came here as an immigrant, I saw it firsthand, where I was told to go back to your country. So, someone using that rhetoric is troubling,” he said.

“If there is such rhetoric, let’s work together to kind of stand in defense of that and not let that rhetoric in a way penetrate into a larger community.”