Calgary, AB (Treaty 7 Territory and the traditional land of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Ĩyãħé Nakoda, Tsuu T’ina and the Metis Nation in Region 3) – The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has issued an open letter to the Calgary Police Service and the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service calling for a full withdrawal of the charges against Calgary protest organizer Wesam Khaled as well as an investigation into violent police conduct at the protest on November 18, 2023.
The BCCLA is concerned about the chilling impact these criminal charges have already had on protest rights and freedom of expression rights across Canada. Canadians should not fear police interference or arrests when they exercise their constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression. Furthermore, the chant calling for a Free Palestine is not hate speech and should not be criminalized. While the charges have now been stayed, only a full withdrawal of the charges can remedy the chilling impacts on both Mr. Khaled and bring accountability to restore public confidence to protest for all people in Canada.
The BCCLA is also concerned by reports of excessive use of force by Calgary police officers during the protest on November 18, 2023. Reports include video footage that shows officers harshly grabbing protesters, throwing them to the ground, and kicking or holding them down. In one case, this included a minor, and in another, a pregnant woman. The BCCLA calls for a fulsome investigation and accountability into the police justification provided for these incidents of force.