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Calgary police chief says officers in no-win situation at weekend protest clash

Some are concerned police have allowed weekly protest to grow by not enforcing the law
A police officeer photographs protesters as they gather at the Foothills Hospital to oppose COVID-19 related public health measures in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary’s police chief says officers were in a no-win situation when anti-vaccine, anti-mask protesters got into a “standoff situation” with residents and other counter-protesters on the weekend.

Mark Neufeld held a news conference today to respond to concerns from the mayor, city councillors and residents that police have allowed the weekly protest to grow by not enforcing the law.

People living in and around the Beltline, an area just south of the city’s downtown, say the protests have been taking place every weekend since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter Oliver, president of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, says the crowds have ballooned since a truckers protest in Ottawa and residents have had enough.

Neufield says officers had the difficult task on Saturday of managing two separate but related protests.

He says the “freedom” protesters refused — for the first time — to follow police directions, which led to the two groups coming together in what was seen as a public safety issue.

Police were seen in videos physically moving some of the residents and counter-protesters using police service bikes.