'They don't want to see us happy,' Edmonton Pride Corner organizer says following gun threat

·2 min read
Claire Pearen, one of the organizers of Pride Corner On Whyte, says the group received a gun threat last week. (Submitted by Claire Pearen - image credit)
Claire Pearen, one of the organizers of Pride Corner On Whyte, says the group received a gun threat last week. (Submitted by Claire Pearen - image credit)

Organizers of a group of queer counter protesters in Edmonton say they have been receiving an increasing number of violent threats.

Pride Corner On Whyte meets every Friday evening at Pride Corner — the intersection of 104th Street and Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona, to create a safe space for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, said Claire Pearen, one of the lead organizers.

But over the last month, Pearen said violent threats have changed the atmosphere.

"We are feeling many emotions — fear and anger definitely being at the forefront," Pearen said. "But [we are] also feeling disheartened, knowing that there are humans out there that want to do harm to others simply for our existence."

Last week, while some volunteers were on a TikTok livestream during a gathering on Pride Corner, Pearen said someone commented on the livestream that they were in the area carrying a gun.

After seeing the comment, a sense of panic and fear ensued, Pearen said. Volunteers called the Edmonton Police Service and, as a safety measure, event attendees left the area and met officers at a different location.

"We're in touch with mental health services and some counselling services. We make sure to have support in place," Pearen said.

The EPS is investigating the incident, a spokesperson told CBC News.

The gun threat came just a week after a man walked through the area with a baseball bat, threatening to assault people with it.

The 32-year-old man was charged with possession of a weapon dangerous to the public, and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.

"They don't want to see us happy. They don't want to see us live with joy," Pearen told CBC News, with tears in their eyes.

In May, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi made a proclamation of Pride Corner on behalf of the City of Edmonton.

The support the corner has received has been overwhelming, Pearen said, and the threats will not change the nature of Pride Corner.

"This has strengthened us even more as a community and, again, is a reminder of why Pride Corner started to begin with."