Two Youths Charged Over Disruption at Fort MacLeod Pride Event

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In connection with an unsettling episode that transpired during a Pride event, two individuals are now confronted with charges. The incident took place at the Empress Theatre, situated in the heart of Fort MacLeod, Alta.

According to enforcement officials, the incident occurred on the 26th of August when patrol units of the Fort Macleod RCMP were alerted about a disruption unfolding within the premises of the theatre. At the time, the establishment was hosting a high-profile drag event.

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Patrons reported an unusual smell engulfing the venue. “It was surmised that a smoke bomb had been set off. Further investigations revealed the origin of the odour to be Fisher and Marten Lure oil,” officers confirmed, putting to rest speculations about the source of the foul smell.

Attending the show was Fort MacLeod resident Tell Sillito, who described the confusion that followed. “There was talk of the odor being similar to skunk or possibly marijuana. The stench only intensified, leading to discomfort among spectators seated towards the back,” he claimed.

The police managed to apprehend two youths attempting to escape from the scene shortly after. Their names will remain confidential due to constraints linked to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Reacting to the incident, the Empress Theatre declared a temporary closure, as broadcasted on their social media platforms the following day. Stasha Donahue, a member of the Empress Theatre Society board, described the raid as an unprovoked assault on their community. She passionately defended the theatre as a cherished institution, not only for Fort MacLeod but also for the broader southern Alberta area.

The drag show itself had incited a flurry of divisive opinions on the internet even before its commencement, with a group opposing its validation. Brian Benoit, a representative from a Facebook group named “Protect our Children from Drag Queens,” shared his contestation of the drag show but was equally quick to disapprove of the destructive methods employed at the theatre.

Regrettably, the Empress Theatre was not the only recipient of such anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination. Later, on Saturday, a flag pole displaying a proud, rainbow-hued Pride flag in Centennial Park was brutally dismantled. As reported by the Fort MacLeod Pride Committee, the flag was barbarically set ablaze. The shocking act of vandalism left the Committee, along with board member Jane O’Connor, understandably distressed.

However, amid the turmoil, O’Connor revealed that the community had rallied and offered significant support in response to the hate crime, signaling hope in contentious times. Nestled approximately 173 kilometres south of Calgary, the town of Fort Macleod continues to weather the storm, holding pride and resilience close to its heart.