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Over 400 anti-racist activists came out to protest on Saturday.
Lindsay Goodwin/the Gauntlet

White supremacists blocked from City Hall

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A white supremacist group that marched downtown last weekend was met with strong opposition, but not everyone was pleased with the result.

The Aryan Guard, an anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic group based in Calgary, organized a White Pride march from the Mewata Armoury to City Hall on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination.

Over 400 Anti-Racist Action Calgary supporters congregated in front of City Hall early that morning to wait for word of the AG march. At about 3 p.m., the two groups met downtown and chants of "increase the peace" and "you're not welcome" began.

The Aryan Guard was unable to make it to City Hall and the Calgary Police Service called a bus to escort them away from the conflict.

"I think it was a resounding success," said ARA spokesperson Jason Devine. "A few individuals resulted to throwing objects. Of course it was stupid to throw stuff."

Devine estimated about a dozen protesters were engaged in the violence. Two people are reported with minor injuries.

"I'm not sure if it was pretty successful," said anti-racist protestor Paula Russel. "A non-confrontational protest was my goal."

Most media reported that three people were arrested-- one Aryan Guard member and two anti-racist protestors-- but Devine argued there were more.

"Every time they say they're going to march, we're going to be there," he said. "The only downside was the police harass- ment."

There have been three complaints of police abuse to date. Fifty police officers kept a barrier between the groups with their bikes.

A March 3 CBC article said that police met with the groups beforehand to warn that they would not tolerate any violence, but that both had a right to free speech.

"They're a violent gang, they're not a political group," said Devine. "They promote and espouse violence, their members have attacked people. Why should they have the right to promote hate?"

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: . . . freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression."

Devine was pleased that the number of Aryan Guard marchers seemed similar to last years, and that the group was not growing.

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