Red Deer rally leaders say they didn’t approve controversial flag

Alberta Wide Rally organizers blame confederate flag-bearers for sabotaging their event

Red Deer’s anti-carbon tax rally was sabotaged by a couple of “miscreants” who unfurled a confederate flag as the event was winding down, say organizers.

“We do not support it,” said the Alberta Wide Rally main organizer, Todd Beasley of Calgary of a flag associated with southern racism. “In fact, we find it repugnant.”

“We… want to do things to help the people of Alberta. We are not extremists,” he added. “To put a flag like that next to our banner, I believe it was a couple of young miscreants, (or) maybe anarchists…”

Calls of complaint came in to the City of Red Deer after photos of the confederate flag, featuring maple leafs instead of stars, were taken in City Hall Park and circulated on social media on the weekend.

Mayor Tara Veer responded by saying: “The city prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive community.” After telling complainants the city also has concerns with this flag being in City Hall Park, she urged them to contact event organizers as “this was not a City of Red Deer event.”

But Beasley and co-organizer Shelley Leinweber, of Sylvan Lake, said the flag wasn’t approved by them.

They maintain they didn’t even see it at Saturday’s rally of some 700 people. Leinweber believes the Alberta Wide event was likely over when the flag bearers came into the park, since circulated photos show some placards in the background resting on the steps of city hall.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the flag, yet it sabotaged the rally by taking the public focus off its message of supporting the energy sector, said Leinweber.

“The whole thing is really, really upsetting… this should not be the topic (that steals the spotlight) from what many hard-working volunteers have dedicate themselves to — which is saving families’ livelihoods,” she added.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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