Threats of violence led to postponement of Nanaimo anti-racism car rally: mayor

Threats of violence prompted organizers of an anti-racism car rally in Nanaimo to postpone their event last weekend.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said Tuesday that a rally organizer had posted a statement on Facebook saying an email sender threatened to shoot participants. The statement does not appear to be available now.

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“It’s extremely disappointing to see someone threaten the safety of a group who is just trying to speak to the positive in our society, which is to ensure that people aren’t racist,” Krog said.

He anticipates the rally will go ahead in the future with the RCMP on hand.

“Anti-racism rallies are not ‘anti-white’ rallies,” Krog said. “As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated in his No Place for Racism speech in 2020: ‘Racism is a persistent scourge of our world. People’s opportunities for education and employment, and their access to health care and justice, are often determined by their race.’ ”

The rally was being staged by one of the groups working with the province’s Resilience B.C. Anti-Racism Network. It was planned for Sunday, along a designated route in Nanaimo.

Another message on the event’s Facebook page said it reluctantly decided to postpone the rally.

“We use the word ‘postpone’ intentionally because we refuse to send the message that we have been bullied and scared into cancelling our event.

“We are hopeful that the event can occur at a future date with appropriate security measures in place.”

What happened illustrates that there is much work to be done, the statement said.

Rachna Singh, B.C.’s Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, said in a statement that such threats are “unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“I strongly condemn the behaviour of these individuals and offer my support to the staff and organizers of the car rally and all their community partners.”

The incident highlights why it’s important to oppose racism and discrimination, which has increased in B.C. during the pandemic, she said.

Society must come together to speak out against racism, she said. “We all stand to benefit when we live in a society that is free of hatred and discrimination.”

When the rally goes ahead, Singh said, she will attend. “The threats of violence will not scare or intimidate us into submission. It only strengthens our resolve.”

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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