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Calgary police still investigating, anticipate laying charges tied to violent clash earlier this month at an Eritrean event

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Friday, 22 September 2023

Calgary

Calgary police still investigating, anticipate laying charges tied to violent clash earlier this month

Police seeking to speak to people connected to the incident involving two groups of Eritrean community members

Jennifer Dorozio · CBC News · Posted: Sep 22, 2023 
Officers stand with shields in front of a Scotiabank.
Police were on scene at a conflict in Falconridge Plaza in northeast Calgary on the evening of Sept. 2. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

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.

Superintendent Scott Boyd at a press conference in September.
Supt. Scott Boyd said at a press conference Thursday that police are combing through footage from the clash, and speaking with community members, in order to piece together what happened. (CBC Calgary)

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."

Similar clashes in other cities

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Dorozio

Reporter & Associate Producer

Jennifer Dorozio is a local journalist from Calgary. She ran a pop-up CBC bureau in Lethbridge in early 2022, covering news in southern Alberta.

With files from Elise Stolte and Jade Markus

------------------------
Calgary, AB,
22
September
2023

Persons of interest – Falconridge/Castleridge violent incident on Sept. 2, 2023

We are requesting assistance from the public to identify persons of interest as we investigate the violence and property damage associated with the violent clash that occurred in the city’s northeast on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023.

Since earlier this month, we have worked with the parties involved to prevent any further escalation or retaliation, and created an investigative task force to identify any individuals involved.

Our investigation relies on the support of the community to help identify persons of interest. A number of those involved have already been identified by police, and we have created a web page that includes photos of 16 additional persons of interest who we believe are involved in some capacity. We want to speak with them to further the investigation.

Visit the webpage.

“As police, we remain politically neutral. We police behaviour, not beliefs,” says Superintendent Scott Boyd. “I want Calgarians to know the type of behaviour exhibited earlier this month is not acceptable. Our efforts are not to stigmatize a specific community. These actions were not condoned by community leaders or the greater community, but the reckless actions of a small group of people who wanted to incite violence. If you were involved in this incident, I strongly recommend you come forward to police.”

We thank members of the community who have already come forward with information.

As we further this investigation, we will update the web page accordingly.

We ask members of the public who recognize any individuals featured on the web page, or have additional information, to email ITF@calgarypolice.ca.

Media availability video.








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