Calgary Police have laid rioting charges against 11 men following violence that erupted in northeast Calgary on Sept. 2 between rival Eritrean factions.
The riot charges, which are extremely rare in Calgary, were laid following the creation of a CPS investigative task force to address the violence that occurred.
Acting Deputy Chief Scott Boyd said that there has been considerable community support from the Eritrean community within Calgary to identify the individuals who were involved in violence.
“We’re extremely thankful that we have a community that doesn’t tolerate this type of behaviour, and when they get together to protest or do other demonstrations, we don’t have this level of difficulty,” he said.
“This was a violent clash of individuals that came with a mindset to cause violence and that’s not tolerated in our great city.”
A/DC Boyd said that the Calgary Police Service was investigating the actions and not the motivations behind September’s violence.
“We police behaviours and as a police agency, we remain neutral to the politics and beliefs that surround what this violent clash was really all about,” he said.
Violent clashes between pro and anti-Eritrean government factions erupted internationally in August and September, with multiple violent conformations occurring in cities across the globe.
Critics of the Eritrean government, headed by Isaias Afwerki, who has been described by Human Rights Watch as a one-man dictator of the Eastern African nation, have said that there has been increased pressure to collect funds from emigres for the regime.
Task force has spent hundreds of hours investigating riot
A/DC Boyd said that the number of investigators has been fluid on the task force, but that there had been up to 12 CPS members working on investigating and examining hundreds of hours of video footage taken of the violence.
He said that it would ramp up as the service begins to make more arrests.
“We’re confident that 50 individuals that have been up on our website, as persons in need of identity are those most responsible for the violence that erupted during this clash,” Boyd said.
“We still need people to look at the website and come forward if they recognize themselves or other individuals that may have information. Community support remains crucial to furthering our investigation, and I can tell you that other arrests are planned and how those arrests played out is up to the individuals.”
Additional individuals, said A/DC Boyd, are known to police, and he called on those persons to come forward to avoid being arrested at their homes or places of work.
Ykhlo Brhaane, 35, Daniel Negasi, 36, Okbazghi Tesfamichael Haile, 32, Habtom Haile, 33, and Efrem Haile Gebru, 38, have been charged by police with rioting and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Angosom Bahta, 35, and Tesfaldot Hailemarian Gebrekid, 27, have been charged with rioting, assault with a weapon, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Amanuel Kiflezgi Sium, 24, and Yamin Okubahanes, 28, have been charged by police with rioting, assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and mischief.
Tesfans Gerbregzabher, 49, was charged with rioting and assault with a weapon.
Million Hagos, 43, was charged with rioting.
As of Nov. 9, there are 33 remaining individuals on the Calgary Police Service’s website that remain persons of interest.
Anyone with information is asked to call CPS at 403-266-1234, email ITF@calgarypolice.ca, or submit tips anonymously to Crime Stoppers.