Calgary police’s hate crimes unit is investigating an incident where a vehicle reportedly drove through more than 100 people at a rally earlier this month.
The protest was about diversity in media outside the Global Calgary office in the city’s northeast on June 8. The group, which used signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” also protested at other media organizations in the city later in the week.
Police said a complaint has been filed after a silver vehicle reportedly drove through the crowd during the rally, which was organized by the United Black People’s Allyship Movement.
Now, investigators are working to find the driver of the vehicle, as well as to speak with any witnesses who saw the incident or has photos.
“Because of the nature of that incident and the international events, we have to accept that there potentially could be some hate bias involved in that driver,” Sr. Const. Craig Collins said.
Collins said police have several leads in the case, and investigators have spoken to many people who were there, but said he knows “there are other people that have seen this that haven’t come forward.”
Several marches and rallies have been held in Calgary in recent weeks, many of them spurred by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody after a violent arrest.
Collins said of the numerous rallies, this is the only one where an incident has led to an investigation.
Shuana Porter with the Allyship said the incident put people in danger, adding a child was almost hit by the vehicle.
“I stage peaceful protests to the point where people are OK coming out with their four-year-old and their two-year-old, so imagine you coming out on the evening with your kids [and] almost going home with just one,” she said.
“That’s how deep that situation could’ve been.”
Porter also said the protesters tried to reason with the driver of the vehicle and pleaded with them to turn around and take another route, but instead they drove through the crowd.
“When we come out to protest, we’re not expecting to be verbally assaulted by people sitting in the open,” she said.
“We’re not expecting for people to drive their cars at full speed through a crowd where there’s children.”
‘Elements’ of a hate crime incident
Collins said there are many “elements” to declaring an incident a hate crime.
“The first element is that we have to have a criminal offence that we’re investigating,” he said.
“Once we’ve satisfied that there’s a criminal element we’re investigating, there’s a secondary investigation into the motivation behind that criminal offence.”
The case then goes to court and if the person is convicted, then it’s up to the judge to determine whether a hate motivation should be added to the conviction, which could up the person’s sentence.
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