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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some Thoughts on Racist Gang's Use of City Transit

We were aware of the efforts to convince private bus companies in the city of Calgary to deny boneheads planning on marching this past weekend. It appears that the efforts may have been successful:

However, the flip side of this is that they may have ended up getting free transportation.

There has been a lot of concern, justifiably so, about the boneheads being provided with transportation from the location of the march on Saturday on a city bus:

Calgary police defend giving white supremacists bus transportation

City police are defending the decision to use a city bus to ferry a dozen white supremacists out of downtown after their march Saturday, saying it avoided a violent battle with anti-racism demonstrators.

On Monday, police faced criticism for using city services to transport the white supremacists, but say the transit vehicle was never a "courtesy bus" for a group called Blood and Honour.

Rather, police say it was a prearranged contingency tactic to evacuate anybody, be they protesters from either side or members of the public caught up in the demonstration.

Police spokesman Kevin Brookwell said officers loaded them onto the bus to avoid a violent confrontation with antiracist activists, who chased the vehicle down the road.

"If we had not extracted them when we did, we would have had a violent face to face, which would have defeated the whole purpose of what we had done up to that point," Brookwell said.

The explanation is of some consolation to Ald. John Mar, who raised his concerns over the use of the bus during a council meeting Monday. Still, the downtown alderman said he doesn't like how it played out from a moral standpoint.

"I'm still disappointed that we provided this transportation, but I understand the rationale as to why it was done," he said.

Others, however, aren't happy. One of the anti-racism leaders, Bonnie Devine, said the two groups were kept apart by police and safety wasn't necessarily an issue.

She said anti-racism demonstrators were there to be confrontational, but non-violent.

It is police prerogative to assess the situation, but she thinks their resources, and not a transit bus, should have been used to take the white supremacists away.

"I don't like that (the) city used any resources to help facilitate neo-Nazis in marching in our streets," Devine said.

Mar said the white supremacist group had originally chartered its own bus, but those plans fell apart when the company learned the identity of the people it was to drive around.

Police say there was some thought given to the police service chartering a bus from a private company, but that was ultimately turned down because of the cost to taxpayers.

Blood and Honour did not pay for the transit bus, according to Brookwell.

He said it is not uncommon in major events like this to use buses as contingencies: "We did not know the numbers that would arise until they actually amassed downtown."

The bus was operated by a transit peace officer, and Calgary police were not charged for the use.

"We sided on the side of safety, regardless of the group," said Brian Whitelaw, the head of transit security. "If there was a confrontation, we'd probably have ended up in the situation we were in several years ago where you've got the risk of property damage, and you've certainly got the risk of physical injury."

Whitelaw said without the bus, the white supremacists would likely have used regular modes of public transit to leave the downtown. This could have created serious problems as confrontation between two groups could have migrated onto the LRT and regulars buses, he said.

At the minimum, the optics of having a city bus ferry members of a violent hate group from the sight of a racist march looks poor. At best. However, we would like to play the devil's advocate here. We do find it wonderfully ironic that the members of Blood & Honour/Combat 18/Aryan Guard/ATB/OPEC/WKRP in Cincinnati/QVC who disparage the police and who often wear ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) patches sort of depended on the police to extricate themselves from the situation they found themselves in that day. So while they talk big about their hatred of the police, they relied on help from the police.
So, should we be upset about the city providing the boneheads with transportation? Perhaps, but there could be something done which would mitigate the poor optics at least.
Make the Nazis pay for their transportation.

Send the current spokesperson of Blood & Honour/Combat 18/Aryan Guard/ATB/Cosplay enthusiasts/CSIS/EIEIO the bill for use of the city bus and gas. It only seems fair, doesn't it? When the Canadian Government flew people out of Egypt, Libya and a few other hot spots around the world, those Canadians had to agree to reimburse the government for the trip. Why not apply the same logic to the boneheads? 
We are, of course, looking out for the taxpayers of the city.


Anonymous said...

How many buses did the city have on standby? Enough to ferry 200 anti-racist protesters?

Y_I_Otter said...

I'd assume that the police had one or more paddy wagons on the scene. What would have been wrong with ferrying the nazis out using those? The vehicles would have to have been returned to their home base in any case. They could easily have driven the WP loonies to the cop shop and let them out there. It's not like they don't know their way home from there.

Anonymous said...

Is the WP march one of your guys favourite things to post about? You went pretty far into detail haha.

Nosferatu200 said...

Anonymous 2: Yep, especially when they utterly fail.

Anonymous said...

@Nos200: Meh, it seemed to be a peaceful demonstration, so atleast that's a good thing.