Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Look Back at the WCFU: Lessons To Consider?

We started this blog in large part due to the emergence of the Aryan Guard in Calgary, Alberta because at the time we really were concerned that this gang would be a real threat to public safety. While this has been the case far too many times, the reality is that the Aryan Guard soon became the laughing stock of the, "White Nationalist" movement in Canada. Sex scandals (including not only McKee's tryst, but allegations of underage sex from people close to the gang), drug use and rampant alcohol abuse, constant infighting with other groups, founding members leaving and other forming rival groups which are even more embarrassing, and numerous arrests, not to mention some younger groupies coming to their senses and leaving the lifestyle behind, all of which took their toll and ultimately lead to gang basically dissolving and leaving only a few to claim membership.

That the Aryan Guard had lasted from late 2006 to almost 2010 (and, if you're to believe the ghost town that is their website, still exists) is remarkable considering the incompetence of the leadership, the animosity they engendered from other WN groups, the transitory nature of the membership, and violent acts that some of the membership was involved with. Sadly, while the Aryan Guard is rightly regarded with a healthy combination of contempt and ridicule, some real damage was done to individuals victimized by the gang as well as the reputation of Calgary and the province.

It never had to be like this.

The Aryan Guard was not the first group of it's kind to come into existence in Canada. Only 2 years before the Aryan Guard was founded by McKee, Price, and Reitmeier, another group tried to make an impact in Alberta.

Western Canada For Us (WCFU) was founded in early 2004. Their leadership under Glenn Bahr was an older and more stable than the drunken idiots and teenagers who made up the Aryan Guard. Like the Aryan Guard, WCFU held a rally in March (in the WCFU case the rally was in support of Ernst Zundel, pictured on the left, and was coordinated with a rally in Toronto organized by Melissa Guille). Bahr was courted by the media and was the guest of a nationally syndicated radio show. The WCFU even had serious plans to expand into other provinces with chapters already designated in British Columbia and Manitoba (though these efforts weren't particularly successful).

Bahr (left) with Melissa Guille

The WCFU had few of the Aryan Guard's problems, at least outwardly (co-founder Peter Kouba was ousted after a disagreement regarding the direction of the WCFU) and a lot of advantages.

The Aryan Guard lasted until December 2009 and the remnants remain active.

The WCFU lasted no more than 5 months and most of the original membership has remained silent since.

So, what happened? How did one group collapse so quickly while another filled with miscreant losers hold out for three years?

The answer to that might be a tale of two hate crimes divisions.

In Calgary the Aryan Guard were able to seemingly act with impunity, at least to some observers. Even when it's members were committing crimes (some of which were on film) the division that deals with hate crimes didn't seem to be all that focused on shutting the group down. We can speculate about the reasons; manpower, limited ability to collect intelligence, complacency, budget crunch, or any other reason or combination of reasons could have been factors. The fact remains that the Aryan Guard fell apart on it's own, but before it did, there were assaults, suspected firebombs and vandalism.

By comparison, the division that deals with hate crimes in Edmonton were very quick to recognize the potential threat the WCFU posed and moved quickly to gather the appropriate intelligence and evidence. Once done, they moved to shut down the WCFU.

Three years vs. five months.

The following link provides some details about the case against the WCFU. We would ask our readers to examine the document and ask themselves if there's a great deal of difference between the evidence used to shut down the WCFU and the same kind of evidence that the Aryan Guard left for investigators on their own website and other websites:

Citation: R. v. Bahr, 2006 ABPC 360

We've taken a stance regarding support for the police that isn't always shared by other anti-racist organizations. They know our position, we know theirs and we can respect our differences in opinion. The purpose of this article isn't to beat up on the police in Calgary or to praise the police in Edmonton. What we would like to see is that police departments throughout this country take these groups seriously. We don't need the membership of these gangs to hurt someone or damage someone's property before taking action. Legislation already exists to deal with groups like the Aryan Guard and Western Canada For Us.

Let's try to think a little outside of the box.


Anonymous said...

is the edmonton hate crimes division completely different now? or have they always taken anti gay crimes far less seriously than racially motivated ones?

do you have any insight on the levels of homophobia/incidents involving it and the edmonton police? its a serious problem in the calgary department (i and many others have been gaybashed by cps, though not physically.)

Anonymous said...

I can only speak from my own experience as a Calgary anti-racist, but it's been pretty clear from the beginning of the Aryan Guard that the Calgary Police were more worried about protecting them than about protecting people from them.

That experience is certainly why I don't trust police when it comes to dealing with White Supremacists - they're far too naive about the issue, and tend to see Nazis as misguided kids. The comment in the story about the racist graffiti in Calgary awhile back sums it up - the cop interviewed said it might not be a hate crime because it might've been "kids". Now, I'm pretty sure that if someone spraypaints "Kill Jews" on a holocaust memorial, they've committed a hate crime, regardless of their age.

It's possible that WCFU was simply more of a PR problem for the Edmonton Police than the AG was for the Calgary police. What got into the media generally made the AG look like incompetent fools, not dangerous criminals (though in fact, they were both)

This all puts aside very real questions of racism and homophobia within police forces, which the comment above suggests is a pretty serious issue.

The fact is, police departments in Canada are neither transparent nor accountable. Nearly every week I see a story somewhere in the news about a police officer in Canada involved in some sort of misconduct. I'm really glad you've chosen to call out the CPS here, for allowing the AG to operate freely in Calgary for several years.

Anonymous said...

wow dave tomas ruud,,you of all people and at least one of your members of your fool group during your college days at sheridan participated in a 3some,,is that excluded from being a gay act,,it is certainly perverted in my mind,,if your dad ragnar was still alive he would disown you,,so can you now deny that you were involved with one of your nazi group members in a homosexual act back in the early 1990"s,,take a polygraph test dave,,prove beyond a doubt you and one other from your group had sex together,,you need your head examined ,,your lost,,only one way out dave,,think about that,,your marching to the wrong drumbeat