23 March 2011

Great Article from Someone Who Attended the March: Originally Published in "See Magazine"

Confronting Racism — Important Opposition

No reaction would be dangerous, says one Calgary activist

CALGARY — It’s 10:30 a.m. on a chilly Saturday morning and a crowd of around 200 is milling about in front of Calgary city hall. Organizers are updating demonstrators with information received from people at outposts who are keeping an eye on members of Alberta’s latest incarnation of a neo-Nazi group — Blood and Honour.

“They’re moving east on sixth,” says an organizer in a cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses. His name tag reads “Gandalf.” 

“They’re over there!” shouts someone over the megaphone. About a block away, behind a cordon of police, some in riot gear, and police vans I see the tops of black “White Pride World Wide” flags. Anticipation turns to action. Blood and Honour has arrived.

White pride rallies and the concurrent anti-racism rallies have become an annual tradition over the past four years. The first march in 2008 was a day-long game of cat and mouse in which  about 250 anti-racists followed about 40 neo-Nazis through downtown Calgary. Escorted and protected by the police, Aryan Guard members made their way to the steps of city hall and chanted “White Pride World Wide” and other slogans until they were ushered onto a school bus to leave downtown. In 2009 there were violent confrontations that resulted in several arrests. In 2010, the neo-Nazis didn’t march. 

Today, Jason Devine taunts them. “Where’s Kyle?” he shouts toward the distant group of about a dozen marchers. Kyle McKee, the de facto leader of the group, is currently serving a 60-day sentence for uttering threats, which were directed at Devine. The married father of four is the public spokesman for Anti-Racist Action Calgary, and a past target of violence. Devine’s home was firebombed in 2008 and he was assaulted by three intruders in his family’s home in late 2010. He believes he’s being targeted because of his anti-racist stance.

An Edmonton protester who travelled in my group says events in Calgary do affect Edmonton.
“What happens 300 kilometres down the road could just as easily happen here if people across the province don’t band together,” says the protester, who didn’t want to be named because of safety concerns. 

Personal safety weighs heavy on the activists’ minds. Cameras are rolling on all sides. Anti-Racist Action Calgary flyers circulate telling people concerned about being identified by the neo-Nazis or having their face seen by the media should feel free to “mask up.” Many people wear disguises such as bandanas, scarves and V for Vendetta masks. Others, including myself, don’t.
Recent events in Edmonton — particularly hate crime charges against four local men — have anti-racists concerned, as they’ve seen a rise in Blood and Honour recruiting activity both on the streets and online.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a surge in white supremacist activity. In 1990, members of “The Final Solution” neo-Nazis attacked journalist Keith Rutherford at his front door. In 2004, Western Canada for Us used Edmonton as a base until it was dissolved when one of its founders, Glenn Bahr, and the organization were found guilty of violating the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibition against distributing hate propaganda through the Internet. 

So why not let them have their march? Why oppose a small group of people with unpopular ideas? 
“To let them march freely and to act out with impunity empowers them and is dangerous,” Jason Devine says. “Only by opposing them can we halt their growth and eventually force them to quit or leave.”

Leah Orr is a freelance writer with an interest in white supremacist movements and involved with anti-racist organizing in Alberta.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

does rob work or live near 17th? based on the time period i saw him traveling west during im not sure of any other reason he would be there?

umad said...

I see him and his wanker crew around Rundle.