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Three 'Soldiers of Odin' members arrested at anti-racism rally

Last Updated Mar 27, 2017 at 3:56 pm PST

Members of the Soldiers of Odin interrupt an anti-racism rally in Victory Square (facebook.com screen capture)

Three men were released without charges immediately following the rally

Reports of a smoke bomb are not backed up by police

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The organizer of a march against racism in downtown Vancouver Sunday is shaken after members of the group Soldiers of Odin showed up.

Shortly after speeches began in Victory Square for the International Day Against Racism event, police say six to eight people who were not in support of the march showed up.

“Tempers flared almost immediately,” says Constable Jason Doucette in a statement. “The confrontation began with members of the groups yelling at each other, and then it escalated to pushing and shoving.”

He says officers arrested three self-identified Soldiers of Odin members “to prevent the situation from escalating.”

All three men were released without charges 15 minutes after the rally ended.

March organizer Imtiaz Popat claims someone threw a purple smoke bomb just as MP Jenny Kwan was about to speak, but police say they have not located any evidence of a smoke bomb.

Popat adds people in Vancouver should be concerned about what he sees as a growing threat of anti-immigration and racist thinking.

“It just shows that we need to organize and confront this,” Popat says.

“This is not new, this it is a resurgence, emboldened by Donald Trump’s rise to power.”