Anti-hate rally leaders wanted barrier between competing rallies Saturday

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Organizers of an anti-hate rally in London Saturday say they’re worried about their safety because police won’t erect barriers between them and an anti-Islam protest.

“They (London police) are taking a wait-and-see approach and I think that is dangerous,” Wendy Goldsmith of People for Peace said Friday.

“It is a major concern for people who attend, that there is not going to be much safety.”

The anti-Islam group Pegida Canada is planning a rally for noon Saturday on the sidewalk at city hall on Dufferin Avenue.

A counter-protest against hate is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Dufferin.

The two groups agreed to take separate, but still physically close, spaces, Goldsmith said.

But with tensions running high after the Aug. 12 death of a peace protester in Charlottesville, Va., the peace rally organizers wanted a physical barrier between the two rallies.

They were also hoping that Dufferin would be barricaded off for the safety of what’s expected to be hundreds of protesters, Goldsmith said.

Organizers asked police at a meeting Thursday for the protection, and police replied Friday by saying there’d be no barricades, she said.

As much as both rallies hope for things will be peaceful, flare-ups can happen, Goldsmith said.

Police wouldn’t confirm their security measures for the rallies.

“The London police service is completing plans for tomorrow’s demonstration,” Const. Sandasha Bough said.

“Separation of participants, traffic control, and application of additional resources are among the many considerations within that plan, which will not be discussed or commented upon at this time.”

Police said earlier they’ll have officers on hand for the rallies, and won’t tolerate violence or property damage.

Pegida Canada organizers have said they will have their own security on hand as well, a group called the III% or 3 Percenters, derived from a U.S. patriot group and known to don paramiltary-style garb at rallies.

On Pegida Canada’s Facebook page, about 50 people have expressed interest in attending the group’s “Freedom Rally.”

On the anti-hate rally’s Facebook event page, more than 400 people have expressed interest in attending.

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Saturday’s rallies

10:30 a.m.- 2 p.m.: Anti-hate rally, organized by several groups

Noon- 2 p.m.: Anti “Islamization” rally, Pegida Canada

Where: City hall, Dufferin Avenue

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