WATCH: A peaceful protest of about 1,500 Calgarians took over downtown streets on Monday afternoon. They were showing solidarity with protests in the United States following the death of George Floyd one week ago. But as Lauren Pullen reports, they were also rallying for change in Calgary.
The City of Calgary has seen its second demonstration in two days, as thousands of residents took to the streets of the city’s downtown, making their voices heard in the fight against racism and police brutality.
Monday’s protest comes one day after the city’s first call-to-action following Floyd’s death. The main consensus of both rallies in Calgary: racism will not be tolerated.
“Beyond being Black, I am a human being, and so I think this is a human being issue at this point,” Calgary protester Wrama Willis said.
“We need change, it has to happen, it’s been long enough.”
Willis, along with more than 1,500 other protesters, could be heard asking for change on Monday, chanting the words, “say his name” and “Black lives matter.”
“I’m hoping this is a pivotal moment that takes us down a different path,” Willis said.
“It’s going to take generations before this is phased out, so we have to start now.”
The protestors walked the streets of downtown Calgary to city hall with posters in their hands, demonstrating a peaceful reminder of what it is they’re fighting for.
“It doesn’t matter what colour you are, we’re here for justice in the right ways,” Shinoo Dhillon said during Monday’s rally.
“The more people that we can get out to these things, the bigger impact that it makes. We need to get that message out there that every person deserves respect.”
The left-wing militant movement was present at several protests in the U.S. that quickly turned violent following Floyd’s death.
Calgary’s second rally was monitored by members of the Calgary Police Service, which issued a statement on the matter on Monday.
“This world is big, but we know what is happening in the U.S. is being felt far beyond their borders,” the statement said.
“We are always one incident, one moment of broken trust, one tragedy away from experiencing a shift in the foundation that we have built with those we serve.
“Every single interaction that an officer has with a citizen needs to be rooted in our values of respect, compassion, honesty, integrity, fairness, courage and accountability.
“Should a moment arise where one person or one community feels they haven’t been treated as such, we must do all we can to learn and do better.”
Bernice Bramwell, the owner of Caribbean Choice in Calgary, said the protests are an avenue to bring about change.
“This is real. This is happening. It’s live in living colour before the entire world,” she said.
Monday’s protest in Calgary is just one of many organized throughout North America in response to Floyd’s death. In Alberta, several rallies have been organized, including another in Calgary on Wednesday.
Premier Jason Kenney commented on the organized events before the rally started Monday morning, noting the need to keep protests peaceful, especially amid the pandemic.
“This particular case of police brutality was appalling and should be condemned by everyone,” Kenney said in an interview with 770 CHQR on Monday.
“At the same time, that should no way justify political violence.”
He added that while it’s every Albertan’s right to attend a protest, he hopes residents will be careful to maintain social distancing as much as possible to limit the chance of a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus in the province.
Protesting and COVID-19
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, also highlighted the importance of staying safe while attending large gatherings amid the pandemic.
“It’s important whether people are exercising their democratic right to protest, whether people are gathering with family or whether people are attending any outdoor gathering of any nature, that as much as possible, we are all protecting each other by making sure that, as much as possible, the two-metre distance is being observed,” she said.
“And where there is a challenge in maintaining that, that face masks are worn by as many in attendance as possible.”
– With files from Global News’ Tomasia DaSilva
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