by Lisa Libin and Adam Silver
(Calgary) – To our community:
In our community update this past Friday, we reached out to make you aware of a community-wide rally we were planning at City Hall for Sunday, November 12.
As many of you are hopefully aware, this past weekend, Calgary Police Service (CPS) arrested a pro-Palestinian / Hamas protester for yelling an antisemitic statement and causing a disturbance. While this was something we were happy to see as a precedent-setting action against hate speech, the reaction from many Calgarians has been angry and volatile, towards both the police and our community.
In consultation with the CPS Hate Crimes Investigator, he strongly urged us to reschedule and relocate our event on Sunday. While the police are not asking us to refrain from rallying, they are very concerned for our community’s safety this weekend in particular, based on the strong and aggressive reaction to the arrest. We also reached out to RCMP who confirmed these concerns.
CPS has been an outstanding partner of ours. As community leaders, we are not willing to compromise our community’s safety, nor the safety of those who protect us. Our presence downtown this weekend will mean the police will not only be managing the anger of the other side, but also be directly placing themselves in the middle of our two groups while protecting our community.
Out of respect for the climate and our police, we have made the difficult decision to reschedule our gathering as a Solidarity Rally for the Hostages, this Tuesday, November 14 starting at 7 pm in the Paperny Family JCC field (see below).
We are upset and angry that our right to gather and protest has been compromised by the actions and threats of others. We recognize that the hate we are standing up against is also the reason we must change our plans.
However, we still see the importance of gathering, recognizing the hostages, and standing in support of Israel. So instead of cancelling this event, it will be moved. We invite our community to join us on Tuesday at the Paperny Family JCC field. We hope everyone will bring their flags and signs and stand in solidarity.
For those that still intend to go downtown, we ask you to proceed with caution and please gather peacefully. We want to ensure the work that CPS and RCMP are doing in acting against hate and aggression does not carry over to our side. We do not want to compromise any of the trust we have very much relied on with CPS. And most importantly, we want everyone to stay safe.
Thank you for your understanding.
Lisa Libin is President and Adam Silver is CEO, Calgary Jewish Federation.