Vancouver far-right racist rally to proceed after resurfacing online
A planned right-wing demonstration at City Hall has sparked an anti-racist counter-protest — and debate over how best to challenge increasingly overt extremism.
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It didn't take long for organizers of an ultra-right demonstration planned for Vancouver City Hall this weekend to resurface, after their Facebook event page disappeared earlier this week and Mayor Gregor Robertson labeled it a "white supremacist rally."
An organizer of the "WCAI/CAP August 19th Vancouver rally," Chadd Beneteau, wrote on a newly created Facebook event page that the original right-wing rally's page was deleted.
"We had to make a new event," he wrote. "The old one got taken down. Please share this one and send out as many invites to as many people as you can. We need a good turnout."
But in the wake of a white supremacist's killing of a young anti-racist counter-protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, plans for a counter-protest in Vancouver are also sparking debate and divisions over what concerned citizens should do.
Some have announced plans to counter-protest, while others fear drawing attention to racists or being baited into a confrontation.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said he has no way to stop the rally from proceeding, even encouraging counter-protesters. Others, however, criticized the mayor's comments as risking escalating the risk of violence.
"People have a right of demonstrate," Robertson told reporters Tuesday, "but hatred and racism has no place in this city. And I expect people to confront that and to make sure there is a peaceful and direct pushback on racism and hatred. It is really important that people speak out at every opportunity against racism and hatred."
Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI) Canada describes itself on Twitter as a "PATRIOTS group standing against the barbarics of the ideology that is Islam."
And the Cultural Action Party (CAP) is associated with its founder Brad Salzberg, who is listed as one of the event's speakers and posted to Facebook Wednesday that "what the leftists and media are labelling as 'white supremacy' is in reality the collective desire of Anglo and Franco Canadians to preserve their cultural identity."
Meanwhile, Beneteau shared a graphic on Facebook midday Saturday from WCAI's U.S. branch, featuring a Dodge Challenger like the car used to kill Heather Heyer, 32, and injure dozens of others with the popular white supremacist and fascist slogan, "Good night, left side."
Beneteau describes himself as a "proud supporter of WCAI Canada," and wrote above an image contrasting European with African art and culture: "What type of immigrant would benefit Canada more? It's like comparing gold to sewage."
On commenter on Salzberg's post, Keith Latondress, replied that "white people have lost the right to exist and shall be extinct with in the next hundred years."
Another speaker listed at the rally is Soldiers of Odin, a street patrol group that claims to disavow racist views but has clashed with anti-racism demonstrators at previous events and who originated in Finnish violent anti-immigrant vigilantes, some of whom are in prison for racist assaults.
-with files from Jen St. Denis.