The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, which began on Oct. 7 following widespread terrorist attacks by the terrorist organization Hamas, has led to continued weekend protests at Calgary City Hall on Nov. 19.
The protests, which mirror those happening worldwide, were peaceful, eschewing much of the conflict seen elsewhere.
More than a thousand pro-Palestine protesters gathered to hear speeches and march from Municipal Plaza, while several dozen pro-Israel protesters gathered at Olympic Plaza—with police estimating that as many as 2,000 protesters were gathered at the peak of protest activity in the afternoon.
Wesam Khaled, an organizer with Justice for Palestinians Calgary and a speaker during the protests, led the march through the downtown core throughout the afternoon.
Prior to the marches, he asked attendees to remain calm and not be provoked into causing any actions that would cast negative media attention on their message, or lead to arrests by police.
Minor incidents occurred throughout the afternoon of protesting, with some pro-Palestine protesters having set off white and green smoke bombs next to Macleod Trail.
Pro-Israel protests let go of a number of helium balloons coloured white and blue, the colours of the Israeli flag, into the sky.
Charges laid against five at splinter protest
CPS said that anyone who jeopardizes the peace, or endangers others, or engages in illegal behaviour would be held accountable for their actions.
“We would like to thank all Calgarians for their understanding and co-operation today as our officers worked to manage the large crowds, maintain public safety and minimize the disruption to surrounding residents and businesses. We continue to appeal to all demonstrators to act responsibly and protest within the laws,” said CPS.
Police laid charges against five individuals from a splinter group of protesters, that blocked traffic on Macleod Trail and 4 Street SE, following the main march of pro-Palestinian protesters.
Police said that the charges followed escalating behaviour within the group, and that traffic was restored following the arrests.
Three individuals were charged with assaulting a police officer, one person was charged with obstructing a peace officer, and the fifth person was released without charge.
“Charges are determined based on an individual’s behaviour and are laid based on the totality of all evidence collected by officers on scene,” said CPS.
The group Justice for Palestinians (JFP) said Sunday’s march was a resounding success. In a media statement, they claimed more than 4,000 people attended Sunday’s protest.
They acknowledged a separate group of protesters continued with a separate march and “were kettled by police, and there were allegations of police misconduct.” JFP said they sent members of their group to monitor and help de-escalate.
“We are dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of all individuals exercising their right to peaceful protest,” the group wrote in a media release.
“JFP urgently appeals to anyone with video evidence of police misconduct to please email it to the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) at email@example.com for a comprehensive review.”