White supremacists clashed with anti-racism activists in a violent fracas in downtown Calgary Saturday afternoon.
Bottles, rocks and signs were thrown by both sides and at least two people received treatment for head injuries. No one was seriously injured.
More than 400 people supporting the Calgary chapter of the Anti-Racist Action group gathered outside Calgary City Hall Saturday morning to commemorate the UN-sponsored International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination.
They were met at the intersection of 7th Avenue and 6th Street SW at about 3 p.m. by about 50 members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Guard. The group's members, many of whom covered their faces with scarves and sunglasses to conceal their identities, brandished White Pride flags and placards emblazoned with white pride slogans.
They had begun their march commemorating "White Pride World Day" near Mewata Armouries and were making their way to City Hall, chanting slogans, when the anti-racism demonstrators blocked their path.
Jason Devine, a spokesman for Anti-Racist Action, said his group took the neo-Nazi march as "spit in the face of all Canadians and anyone in the world who is against racism. So we're here to demonstrate our diversity and unity and also to oppose racism."
Police, on hand to keep the groups separated, were hard pressed to keep the two sides apart, and had to break up several fights.
Many members of the anti-racism contingent criticized police officers for protecting the neo-Nazi group.
The city of Calgary said in a statement that "the role of the Calgary Police Service at public protests is to ensure public and officer safety and to protect individual rights to express their views peacefully as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
The city said Calgary Transit buses experienced some delays because of the melee.
Police arrested three people. Charges are pending.