Violent Clash in Falconridge Tied to Eritrean Community Conflict


Calgary law enforcement officials have revealed that no arrests have been made following a violent altercation that erupted in the northeastern neighbourhood of Falconridge on Saturday, leaving many injured. However, an investigative task force has been assembled to identify those who should be held accountable.

Chief Constable Mark Neufeld, in a press briefing on Tuesday, labelled the incident as a “planned, targeted attack”. He expressed his belief that this situation is linked to ongoing tension involving certain members of the Eritrean community, reminiscent of similar disturbances witnessed globally.

The violence initiated around 5 p.m. on Saturday as two groups armed with contrasting ideologies locked horns in a brutal feud.

2021 marks the 30th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia. The East African nation, ruled by President Isaias Afwerki since its secession, has remained devoid of free media and elections, triggering mass emigration. Various clashes amid rival Eritrean factions have erupted throughout this commemorative year, with incidents recorded in Toronto, Edmonton, and Israel.

According to Neufeld, officers from Calgary’s police division arrived on the scene to find individuals wielding weapons such as clubs and bats, and some even donning protective helmets, deeply engrossed in the conflict. Projectiles including stones and bottles were being thrown, posing an imminent threat to the arriving officers who were not equipped with protective gear. “It was very dangerous,” he remarked.

A total of twelve people were rushed to the hospital, with some sustaining severe injuries, while in total about 150 people are believed to have been involved in the clashes. Neufeld believes that those wounded were actively partaking in the fray. He described the incident as “the largest violent event to transpire in our city in recent memory.”

The massive affray was centered around two distinct events arranged in the northeastern part of the city. Neufeld remarked that although the scheduled gatherings were meant to be peaceful, all attendees should not be vilified for the violence that ensued.

Not everyone present was involved in the hostility. Some were just attendees hoping to partake in a cultural celebration, with no intent of causing trouble. Neufeld admitted that the Calgary Police Service were aware of the potential for violence based on previous skirmishes in Israel, Toronto, and Edmonton. They also worked closely with event organizers in an attempt to defuse tension between the warring factions.

Police were quick to respond when the violence eventually broke out, swiftly separating the belligerents and re-establishing order. Neufeld does not anticipate further unrest but assured that the police would respond accordingly if necessary.

He also acknowledged the anxiety this violence incites in nearby communities and acknowledged that a large extent of the property damage belonged to bystanders who had no part in the conflict. He emphasized that the Calgary Police Service is not partisan in the Eritrean conflict and stressed that gatherings become unlawful as soon as opposing factions disrupt them’s events violently or through threats of property damage.

According to Neufeld, the process to pinpoint those responsible for the criminal deeds is ongoing, given the vast number of people involved. The police plan to engage community members to help identify and locate persons of interest in the coming weeks.

Neufeld concluded his statement, saying, “At the end of the day we cannot have this in our city. It’s that simple. There’s no justification for the behaviour we saw. That was bananas.”

Lori Williams, a political analyst from Mount Royal University, labeled the violence as “counter-productive”; sparking a negative portrayal of the Eritrean refugees in Canada, possibly implying an ungrateful or law-disrespecting temperament. She differentiated between protest and violence, emphasizing that the latter has sadly been the course chosen in these matters.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.


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