Calgary police chief defends tactics used to dismantle anti-Israel campus protest

'Obviously they are going to allow freedom of expression and assembly for the student body on campus – that's never been controversial. The issue was the actual encampments and occupation.'

Calgary police chief defends tactics used to dismantle anti-Israel campus protest
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The chief of the Calgary police is defending the actions of officers this week after they cleared an anti-Israel protest at the University of Calgary last week.

Calgary Police Service (CPS) aided in the forceful dismantling of the demonstration on the institution's property after remaining protesters made it clear that they would not leave the scene.

At around 11:15 pm, police used non-lethal measures like tear gas and flash bangs to break up the protesters, and arrested multiple people who were at the scene.

Police Chief Mark Neufeld told CTV Morning Live Calgary on Tuesday that he's heard rumours that some protesters were hurt, but that no one has come forward so far.

"So, if that's the case, I think there should be pathways for people to come forward and report those situations to an independent body."

Neufeld told the outlet that he believes the school acted in a "prudent" manner.

"Obviously they are going to allow freedom of expression and assembly for the student body on campus – that's never been controversial. The issue was the actual encampments and occupation," he said.

"The university has got a policy against that and they were very concerned."

Neufeld said that the University of Calgary had time to act decisively thanks to seeing similar situations play out in the United States.

"This arrived in Alberta a little bit later, probably because of our wet spring, but we anticipated that this might come," he said.

"It was made very clear that protests were not a problem at all, it was just the encampments that we had an issue with," the police chief added.

On Monday, the Alberta government said it would task the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, the province's police oversight body, with probing the actions of the CPS concerning the protest.

"There is a way to peacefully protest, and you have to protest in compliance with the law," Premier Danielle Smith said during quiestion period on Monday.

"We have watched as protests have gotten out of control at (University of California, Los Angeles), at Columbia (University in New York), where the universities were trashed and vandalized and Jewish students were made to feel unwelcome and fearful," the premier noted.

“These are the kinds of things that they have to make sure that they are on guard for, so that it doesn't get out of control," she added.

Neufeld said that protesters were in contact with the police prior to ever setting up their camps, and that working with police actually helped to "minimize the impact of protests on the community [which] doesn't get headlines."

Neufeld said, however, that communication between the CPS and protesters is failing.

"It's not going in a good direction, quite frankly," he said.

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