Devlin Gannon, like thousand of other Calgarians, has been attending freedom protests opposing COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates peacefully and without incident on a weekly basis for over two years. He not only attends the protests as a participant, but he also covers them as an independent journalist. Throughout the course of those two years he has never had a confrontation with police, but he has come to know a few of them after seeing them week after week.
A few weeks ago, with restrictions and mandates beginning to be rescinded, counter protestors suddenly appeared along the regular marching route of the freedom rallies. The next week they took to the streets, disobeyed police directions, and ultimately re-routed the freedom marches’ route through downtown Calgary. Following their aggressive counter-protest, Calgary mayor and progressive activist Jyoti Gondek took to social media to decry the freedom protest and to insist that the counter-protesters were in her opinion not protesters at all, but instead justified community members standing up for their neighbourhood.
Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld quickly debunked the narrative that the counter-protesters were all community members when he confirmed that some were indeed paid activists. The City of Calgary, evidently at the behest of the Mayor Gondek, sought and obtained an ex-parte injunction against the protests, which Chief Neufeld committed would be enforced. The injunction, which can be read in full here, was intended to fundamentally restrict protesters access to public parks and to limit their capacity to oppose government mandates.
After two years of peaceful protests, the City of Calgary and Calgary Police were taking notes from Ottawa’s clampdown on freedom convoy protesters on how to undermine democratic rights and freedoms.
Devlin, who was in Central Memorial Park last Saturday to cover the protest once again, was calmly speaking with a police officer confirming exactly which part of the injunction was being violated as police were clearing people from the park when another officer suddenly grabbed him by the collar of his sweater. The officer pulled so aggressively that Devlin’s sweater and shirts were pulled off, after which nearly a dozen officers circled him pinning him to the ground. As you will see in the footage, he was placed in a seated position with his arms being pulled upward, leaving him folded in half and unable to move. Police then demanded he not resist, despite the only resistance coming from tension in ligaments from the uncomfortable position they had placed him in. Devlin tells us that he explained that he was not resisting and that he was trying to comply. Despite his efforts, he was then tasered.
In addition to a charge relating to obstruction of the injunction, police have also filed an assault against an office charge against Devlin, with an officer reportedly alleging that Devlin made contact with him causing him to fall over. The police had plenty of cameras rolling, so they likely already know this, but as you will also see in the video, Devlin was in fact being hauled down by police at the time of the purported assault, and the officer alleging the assault in reality incidentally contacted someone other than Devlin causing him to fall. Despite this, at the time of the interview these charges had not yet been rescinded nor an apology issued by Calgary Police.
It is troubling to see police escalation and ideological enforcement being carried at the behest of political ideologues like Mayor Jyoti Gondek. The ongoing peaceful exercise of democratic rights, like protesting, was transmuted into violent encounters and needless arrests all because of a new breed of politicians, apparently following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s lead, who feel they are justified in using force to oppose dissent.
I joined Devlin for an interview to discuss his dramatic arrest, the unfortunate actions from authorities to undermine peaceful protests and the efforts he is undertaking to defend himself against the charges he is facing.
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