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Calgary police looking for 16 people after Eritrean faction violence

Calgary police have 16 persons of interest they want to speak with in connection with a violent confrontation in the city’s northeast earlier this month.

On Sept. 2, more than 150 people took part in a dispute between rival Eritrean factions in the community of Falconridge. Calgary police said they’ve been working with different community groups in the aftermath.

Police said they’ve been in discussions with both sides to prevent further escalation or retaliation related to the incident. They’ve also formed an investigative task force to identify people involved.

Property damage was reported as a part of the confrontation and now the Calgary police have put together a webpage with photos of 16 people they’re looking for.

CPS Superintendent Scott Boyd said the 16 individuals they’re looking for had varying levels of participation in events that happened that day. They’ve been sifting through 600-plus hours of body-worn camera footage. He said no one view captures the entire event.

“It’s difficult to give specifics until those individuals are identified, but we want to speak with them directly so we can further the investigation and ascertain their exact involvement,” Supt. Boyd said.

Boyd said the end goal was to ensure those responsible for the violence were held accountable. After they speak with these people and begin to nail down facts, Supt. Boyd said he expects charges would be laid.

“We’re going to be led by the evidence in this situation,” he said.

“Where the evidence takes us will be in part of what these individuals have to tell us, in part with the vast array of electronic evidence that we’ve captured from this violent clash.”

Various charges are being examined, Supt. Boyd said, including unlawful assembly, riot, causing a disturbance, obstruction, possession of weapons, assault and others.

Continued work with the Eritrean communities

Supt. Boyd said they have an open dialogue with the leaders in the Eritrean community – on both sides of the conflict. They’re hearing more about the individual sides and

“What we’ve heard is that they don’t tolerate this level of violence either, which is really refreshing and an important message to get out,” he said.

“For the vast array of this, this is not condoned in this community. It’s a small group working independently or in small groups that we’re looking to hold account for the violence that erupted.”

Supt. Boyd said they know there are different views out there and people have the right to come together peacefully to have their voices heard. He said you can have opinions, but how you’re sharing those opinions – including hate speech – is where they draw the line.

“As police, we remain politically neutral. We police behaviour, not beliefs,” Supt. Boyd said.

He encouraged any groups wishing to hold a peaceful protest in the future to engage the CPS and the City of Calgary early on in their process. That allows them to dedicate the appropriate resources for the event.

  • With files from Aryn Toombs