Calgary Police Service (CPS) chief Mark Neufeld announced that no arrests have been made following Saturday’s “stupid” mass street violence between Eritreans in Falconridge, but added “we will hold those responsible for the criminal activity that took place there.”
The announcement follows a shockingly violent clash between two Eritrean groups in a northeast Calgary neighborhood on Saturday night. The mass violence was centered around two scheduled Eritrean events in the community.
Chief Constable Neufeld said police knew of the scheduled events and that there was potential for violence based on similar violent clashes among Eritreans in Edmonton, Toronto, and in Israel.
“This is really the largest violent event to happen in our city in recent memory if you think about the number of people involved in this incident,” he said.
“We are actively investigating this incident and we will hold those responsible for the criminal activity that took place there,” Neufeld added.
He further said the conflict was politically driven between the two Eritrean groups — not relating to Canada but their home country.
The anniversary of Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia, marking 30 years this year, has seen a series of clashes between rival Eritrean groups.
“It was senseless violence that was planned and premeditated and there were individuals who wanted this to happen and it did,” Neufeld said.
Riot in Falconridge
Falconridge Boulevard was shut down in both directions between Castleridge Blvd. and McKnight Blvd. N.E. due to the mass conflict.
Eyewitnesses estimated that two groups of Eritrean men, about 75-100 men per side, gathered in a parking area, armed with long sticks, rocks, and pipes, before savagely attacking each other over a political dispute from their home country.
Video footage taken by bystanders revealed individuals from both groups carrying long sticks and bats, and some even wearing helmets.
Police released a statement on Saturday telling citizens in the area to seek shelter in their homes to avoid getting hurt from the violence. Several cars and buildings were damaged by rocks and bricks thrown.
Some Eritreans wore white shirts adorned with their home country’s flag, while others had on blue T-shirts and carried blue flags featuring the former Eritrean flag.
Despite the brazen clash leading to a significant police presence, no arrests were made on site at the time, and four days later, still no arrests have been made.
“That would have been ideal,” Neufeld said when asked why no one was arrested. But he said due to the injuries that took place, police attended to the injured participants instead.
Neufeld further said a task force has been put together to investigate the incident.
The CPS chief also said at least twelve Eritrean participants were taken to hospital, some with serious injuries.
“This was bananas,” Neufeld added.