The confrontation, which has been linked to ongoing rifts within the Eritrean community in Calgary, is one of many that have taken place in cities across Canada and the world as the African nation marks 30 years since it gained independence from Ethiopia.
According to CTV News, the fight took place in a parking lot near Falconridge Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. Young men rushed towards one another, weapons drawn, and before long, the situation devolved into chaos. It wasn't until 9 p.m. that authorities were finally able to clear the area and restore order.
Some participants sported garments depicting Eritrea's current flag, while others wore blue shirts and held the nation's former flag, leading many to initially believe it was some sort of protest.
"One guy told me they were protesting the dictatorship in Eritrea and I thought, 'Why do they have two-by-fours and pipes if they're protesting a dictatorship?'," one witness said.
During a press conference following the event, Calgary Police Service Superintendent Cliff O'Brien said in no uncertain terms that it was not a protest, but simply a "violent conflict."
"This is a group that was not listening to the police," he continued. "This is a group that was actively trying to assault the police officers as well as each other."
Similar incidents have occurred this year in Edmonton and Toronto, though those were not as violent. On Saturday, members of the Eritrean diaspora clashed on the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel. As CNN reports, over 100 people were injured, and dozens were arrested.
In the decades since gaining independence, dictator Isaias Afwerki has instituted a number of policies that have put Eritrea on the pathway to becoming a failed state. There are no elections, human rights have been forgotten, and the free press is nonexistent.
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