Sunday, March 24, 2013

Anti-Racist Rally Successful in Calgary

For five years, anti-racists have assembled to stand against members of the Calgary-based Aryan Guard who had attempted to co-opt the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which takes place on March 21, calling their rally a "white pride march." In those years, the Aryan Guard (which later morphed into Blood & Honour) were outnumbered by as many as 8 to 1. Things became so hot for them in Calgary that they tried moving the march to Edmonton where they had to resort to a game of hide and go seek in order to avoid an equally large number of anti-racists. Efforts to hold a march in London last year met with unqualified failure, though anti-racists were quite successful in their efforts.

So yesterday, anti-racists again assembled along with members of Idle No More in Calgary in a rally to end racism. They met with almost no opposition as most of the membership of the old Aryan Guard, Blood & Honour, W.E.B. are in remand awaiting trial or serving lengthy prison sentences. Only two boneheads showed up, and one of them was Layton Bertsch who even boneheads don't take seriously.

By Clara Ho, Calgary Herald March 24, 2013

Unlike in years past where violent confrontations erupted between white supremacists and anti-racism activists, only two white pride supporters showed up Saturday to a peaceful rally against racism.

Layton Bertsch and Robert Legroulx, who call themselves members of the Vinlandic Canadian Allegiance, stood away from the approximately 40 anti-racism and Idle No More supporters outside city hall, carrying a sign that read “Fairness Now, Accept White Pride.”

Bertsch said it’s unfair that other groups are allowed to openly celebrate their background, citing a Chinatown parade as an example.

“Why can’t we have white pride?” he said, adding he’s all for respecting other races and cultures. “I also want to set the record straight, it’s pride, not hate.”

The pair left before the rally without interacting with the activists, a far cry from a gathering held in 2009 when 60 Aryan Guard members faced off with roughly 400 protesters, resulting in a scuffle that left two people injured.

The annual march around the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed annually on March 21, had grown into an opportunity for both groups to square off downtown, with police monitoring the crowds.

But since 2009, the number of neo-Nazi members and supporters has dropped year after year, with the most prominent members of the movement now behind bars. Only about a dozen white pride supporters showed up in 2011. And last year, they moved their march to Edmonton.

Jason Devine, spokesman with Anti-Racist Action and organizer of the sixth annual anti-racism rally in Calgary, said he’s pleased to see the white supremacists’ presence dwindling with every rally.

“Part of the Anti-Racist Action, the main focus, was exposing, confronting and blocking these violent gangs. When they’re gone, it’s a good day for everybody,” he said.

“But we have to remember that racism still exists. If we narrowly define racism as Nazi skinheads, we’ll be missing a whole other side.

“A part of this is pushing education, reaching out to people.”

Ralliers waved rainbow flags, signs bearing the message “Say No To Racism” and wore patches with crossed-out swastika symbols, cheering as Devine urged them to continue the fight against racism.

Police officers on bicycles monitored the gathering from afar.

Devine was joined by Idle No More organizer Wendy Walker and supporters of the movement, sparked by fears the federal government’s omnibus budget bill would erode native rights and affect water protection.

She said Idle No More and anti-racism activists are all for equal treatment.

“This is not about age, it’s not about gender, it’s not about race,” she said. “It’s about human beings.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald   

A few videos of the event:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ARA calgary has been running for 6 years now. Its our 6th yearly march :)