Date: Friday, 22 September 2023
Police say they anticipate laying charges after a violent clash in Falconridge Plaza earlier this month.
The fight happened on Sept. 2 outside the Magnolia Banquet Hall between two groups of Eritrean community members. Videos on social media show people throwing rocks, carrying sticks and wearing hockey helmets.
In an update Thursday, police said they are sifting through more than 600 hours of CCTV and body-worn camera footage, along with other digital evidence, to piece together what happened that evening.
"It really is an investigative puzzle that they're putting together," Supt. Scott Boyd told reporters Thursday.
The police posted photographs of 16 people on their website that they want to identify and speak with about their roles in the events that occurred that evening. Police say they want to understand their involvement in the clash.
Police say they've been working closely with members of the Eritrean community to prevent any further escalation or retaliation.
Boyd thanked those members of the community who have come forward with information.
"The end goal here is to hold people accountable for the violent clash and we firmly believe that with the individuals that we have identified, and as we progress this with getting more known facts from those that are in the photos and speaking with them, I anticipate we will be laying charges," he said.
Days after the fight, in which 11 people were reported injured, police called it "the largest violent event to happen in our city in recent memory."
"As police, we remain politically neutral. We police behaviour, not beliefs," Boyd said Thursday.
"These actions were not condoned by community leaders or the greater community, but [were] the reckless actions of a small group of people who wanted to incite violence."
After the fight, members of the Eritrean community told CBC News this was a clash between two Eritrean groups. There have been similar clashes in Edmonton, Toronto, Germany, Israel and around the world.
Michael Teclemariam, host of the Eritrean Radio Show on CJSW 90.9 FM in Calgary, spoke with CBC Calgary after the incident.
"I am actually disappointed for the Eritreans because they're both brothers in a way, so it's not a good thing to have violence," Teclemariam said then.
He said a point of contention is over festivals — some in the community say the festivals are connected to the Eritrean government, distributing propaganda and raising money for the state, while others see the festivals, which have been going on for a long time, as a way to celebrate and demonstrate free speech.