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Fort Macleod council passes resolution condemning hate crime

Fort Macleod council last week passed a formal resolution condemning a recent hate crime that saw a Pride flag shredded and burned.

Council passed the resolution at its Sept. 14 meeting to ensure it is on record opposing such acts.

“I’m saddened that such a formal resolution is needed,” Coun. David Orr said. “I emphasize with those who stand in support of the LGBTQ+ among us.”

“Once again, they are having to weather discrimination. Most unfortunately, there are those in our town who refuse to fully respect the rights and freedoms of others and feel threatened by the exercise of those rights and freedoms.”

On Aug. 23 someone entered the private property of the Walmsley family, ripped down and shredded a Pride flag and set it on fire.

It was the second time in just over two years the family had a Pride flag targetted.

When they replaced the Pride flag on Aug. 29, it was also torn down.

Undaunted, the Walmsleys put yet another Pride flag in place.

The Town of Fort Macleod had already issued the following statement prior to the Sept. 14 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building:

“As you may be aware, on the week of August 25, 2020 a Fort Macleod family was the target of a hate crime, when someone tore down and burnt a Pride flag that was located on their private residence.”

“The Town of Fort Macleod Council and Administration strongly condemns the actions of the perpetrators who violated the private property and security of the Walmsley family.”

“These actions will never be accepted in our great Town. We are aware that the subject of ‘Pride’ and LGBTQ+ may be a controversial issue for some of our residents, however violence and hatred can never be accepted as a form of dialogue.”

“Every individual is integral to our community and has the right to be safe, especially on their own property.”

On Aug. 31 a parade marshalled in the parking lot at F.P. Walshe school and drove past the Walmsleys’ home in a show support for the family as well as LGBTQ+ people in Fort Macleod.

Orr thanked those people who have rallied in support and offered an apology to those negatively affected by the act.

“As we go forward as a community I hope that everyone will strive to be tolerant and respectful, and that they will measure their words and their actions,” Orr added.

At the Sept. 14 council meeting Mayor Brent Feyter presented a resolution for council’s consideration.

“It is with serious regret that they had to endure this,” Feyter said of the Walmsley family. “It is of utmost importance for us as a council that we iterate publicly and on official record that such acts of targetted vandalism and crime be harshly spoken against.”

Feyter read the following motion for council’s consideration:

“Whereas in recent weeks there was the targetted act of the destruction of a Pride flag displayed on private property, an act which has occurred before to these very same residents.”

“And whereas town council has communicated via social media and news releases their most serious condemnation of such acts.”

“And whereas a formal motion registering council’s condemnation of such recent acts of vandalism has not been made, be it therefore resolved the Town of Fort Macleod council along with the town administration condemned such acts of discrimination, hate and bigotry and affirmed that all law-abiding individuals are welcome and belong in the Town of Fort Macleod and in this case in particular, those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Coun. Marco Van Huigenbos supported the motion.

“I definitely share my concerns and sympathy with the victims of this hate crime,” Van Huigenbos said. “I don’t know if this is going to make it to the right ears, but to the individuals who did this, shame on you.”

“I hope that when you think back on what you’ve done you realize that there is no justification for this . . . no violence like this will further anybody’s agenda.”

“This is completely unacceptable to any of our residents whether you agree with their lifestyle or not.”

Coun. Kristi Edwards agreed, saying she is saddened the action of destroying the Pride flag was even part of someone’s conscious thought.

“I’m really disappointed that our community has repeated this,” Edwards added. “I really hope that with the increased pressure or light that is being shone on this issue that hopefully the people who have done this are hearing what everyone is saying and that they’re taking it in and realizing that our rights and freedoms exist for a reason, and what they did was wrong.”

Coun. Gord Wolstenholme and Coun. Werner Dressler also spoke in favour of the motion, which passed unanimously.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Fort Macleod RCMP at 403-553-7200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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