Monday, March 24, 2008


White supremacists and anti-racist protesters clashed during a march by the racists which wound its way through downtown Calgary on Friday. The anti-racists confronted the white supremacist members of the so called Aryan Guard (pictured here at a rally last summer) in a city which has seen growing racist violence.

The Aryan Guard was founded in late 2006. In the past year, Aryan Guard members have been putting up posters, handing out leaflets and responding to anti-racist rallies with their own protests. They hold regular meetings and are said to be actively recruiting, particularly among city youth.

Anti-racist activists are not about to let these goons march around unopposed.

"Our message is that . . . the community is united, that racism will not be tolerated, that it shouldn't be tolerated and that we shouldn't just turn from it," said Jason Divine of Anti-Racist Action Calgary. "The message is, there's strength in numbers," Devine added. "We don't have to be afraid of people that march around with swastikas."

Many of the anti-racist protesters covered their faces with bandannas during friday's action. This has become more common since at least two fire bombings in the city this year have been tied to possible neo-Nazi activity, said Devine.

Both attacks involved Molotov cocktails being thrown at inhabited houses, Detective Brad Weinberger told the Calgary Sun last month.

In the first incident, he said there were three people at home when the bomb smashed through a window, he said.

"There was no fire internally but the potential for huge damage and loss of life was there," the detective said.

Hours later, another home with a family of six (including four children between the ages of three and nine) all of whom were home was targeted. That fire bomb struck a wall and burned a fence and patio furniture. One of the house's occupants, 29-year-old anti-racism activist Bonnie Collins said her work in standing up to white supremacists provoked the attack.

So the rally was particularly close to the Collin's heart. Despite the attack she was there unafraid of the nazi thugs.

"Canada and Calgary were not built on hate or violence . . . but on equality and for humanity," she said. "We have to stand together and fight their horrible ideas and ideology."

The racists chose Good Friday, during the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to stage their march.

Pablo Fernandes, in the Calgary Sun wrote, "Apart from gaining ground in their intimidation campaign, the neo-Nazis showed they have absolute freedom of movement in Calgary." He added, " was a group of self-proclaimed anarchists, known as the flag bearers of the counter-culture, who were the most physically active in disrupting the white supremacist rally. They also paid the highest price, as at least two were detained by cops and many others were forced to give their particulars to police."

Stunned tourists and downtown shoppers watched open-mouthed as the shouting crowd marched down the popular Stephen Avenue.

"I think it's horrible," said Cindy Fredricks, wiping away tears after she found herself in the thick it while out for a walk.

"You realize what this is about, it's pretty scary. Everybody should feel safe here," she said.

A flyer distributed by Calgary’s Aryan Guard promoting their march declared, “We, a local White Civil rights [sic] activist group are hosting a march on March 21st as a declaration of our freedom and pride.”

“White Pride is clearly and solely a euphemism for hatred,” says Devine . He points to the Aryan Guard’s website as proof. “It’s completely disingenuous. They say they’re non-violent, but pose with weapons. These people have violent tendencies, at the very least.”

Cody, an anti-racist activist from Calgary, who asked that only his first name be used, told Vue Weekly that the intent of such groups is more about intimidation than pride.

“Just a few months back, there was an incident [in Calgary] where two neo-Nazis stabbed someone in a Safeway parking lot,” he says. “They went to court and got convicted on assault charges. They consider themselves ‘pro-white activists’ but from my experience, I would classify them as racist terrorists. They use fear tactics to spread their political beliefs.”

“A year ago, it would be rare to see these neo-Nazis walking around. Now they’re all over the place,” Cody says. “You can find them on buses and trains, in parks and at bars. They’re all over the place now and they're growing.”

“We can’t just sit around and wait for the police,” Devine argues. “Essentially, the police’s hands are tied. Until they break the law, it’s our job to alert the community. We show up to let them know that we’re watching them and that the community doesn’t have to be afraid.”

The following is from the Edmonton Sun (Canada).

Neo-Nazis, activists clash in Calgary

CALGARY -- White supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators clashed in Calgary's downtown core yesterday.

A group of white supremacists named the Aryan Guard staged a march from the Mewata Armoury down 8th Avenue to city hall, prompting anti-racism activists to stage their own demonstration.

The activists, plus union leaders, anarchists, minority groups, passersby and gay activists held their own rally as a counter-demonstration to the white supremacists, said Anti-Racist Action Calgary's Jason Devine.

"Our message is that there's strength in numbers ... that the community is united, that racism will not be tolerated, that it shouldn't be tolerated and that we shouldn't just turn from it," he said.

Approximately 25 Aryan Guard members gathered at the Franklin LRT station, rode the C-Train to downtown and started making their way down to the Mewata Armoury, when they were blocked by counter-demonstrators along 7th Avenue, in front of a seniors' centre.

The animosity between the two groups reached an instant peak, prompting police to set up a human barrier between the two groups.

An anarchist, who asked to be identified only as Mike, said he was saddened by the fact the last time his group stood up against the Aryan Guard, the neo-Nazis had a fraction of the numbers they had yesterday.

"Calgary's the only city where they can go out in public, show their faces and hand out leaflets," he said.

"They're cancerous and we have to fight them every time they show up in our community."

Many of the counter-protesters covered their faces with bandanas, which has become more common since at least two fire bombings in the city this year have been tied to possible neo-Nazi activity, said Devine.

"If you're denouncing a group that likes to pose with guns and talks about how much they love Adolph Hitler, I think it would be a little foolish not to have a little bit of ... caution," said Devine.

From the seniors' centre and under police escort, Aryan Guard members made their way down 7th Avenue, taunted by anti-racism demonstrators, which by this time had swollen to more than 200.

The two groups faced off again on the steps of city hall, with police between the two.

After almost two hours, police brought in a school bus and escorted the neo-Nazis - one of whom launched at a female demonstrator but was pulled back by officers - onto the bus, which drove away with flags and Nazi salutes showing out the windows.

The rally was particularly close to the heart of Bonnie Collins, whose home was the target of a Molotov cocktail attack last month.

"Canada and Calgary were not built on hate or violence ... but on equality and for humanity," she said.

"Instead, what they do is promote ignorance, hatred and they promote violence and anger."

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