Lacombe resident Amber Maetche was marching in the Red Deer Women’s March last Saturday when she says she heard a rude comment directed at her and others coming from the Yellow Vest protesters.
It allegedly happened when the Women’s March participants were passing the spot outside City Hall where the Yellow Vest protesters rally every Saturday, she says.
Many people heard the comment, ‘rope ‘em and grope ‘em,’ coming from one of the protesters, she says.
“I found the Yellow Vests almost disrespectful of not giving us the space to do our March,” she said a few days after the March. “I didn’t expect them to join us but they didn’t really give space and having that comment said, a lot of people heard.”
After the March, with her fiance, she says she drove past the Yellow Vest protesters because she wanted to confront them about making a sexist comment at an event about women’s rights and empowerment.
“I held my sign out the window and I ended up saying, ‘Who said, ‘rope ‘em and grope ‘em’? That was so disrespectful to the women in this March today,’” she says. “No one wanted to say who it was.
“It’s really disappointing because it’s good that they are standing up for what they believe in, too, but if they are going to tear down other people who believe other things, it’s not okay.”
She feels if the Yellow Vest movement allows members to make sexist or racist comments to others who are fighting for their own rights, just like them, it’s disrespectful.
“I just really wanted to have one of them say, ‘It was that guy,’ or ‘We are sorry that was said by any of us.’ But they didn’t want to own up that anyone in their group had said that.”
The comment was likely a joke, Maetche says, but by today’s standards, she feels jokes like that are unacceptable.
“I’m sure he is not a horrible person and probably has a daughter or mother and he wouldn’t say anything like that to them but the point is he did say that and it was so disrespectful to all the women there fighting for equality.
“I don’t want to throw all the Yellow Vest people under this guy but the fact that they did nothing and they accept people like that in their cause just isn’t good for them.
“I just wanted to make the point that comments like that are just not okay. And the fact that it was at this public march and probably many people heard him say that. We cannot tolerate that and I’m glad I took a stand and went back and said something.”
Maetche also posted on her Facebook page, calling out Red Deer’s Yellow Vest movement. She feels it is important to speak out about the issue.
“I will not be silent! And this is definitely not over!” reads her post.
Yellow Vest protester Naomi Hansen disputes the claim that the man said ‘rope ‘em and grope ‘em.’ She says Maetche misheard.
“I told her exactly who and what the gentleman said and it was ‘Kokanee Groper’ and it was a remark made in support of the women’s movement,” she says in a post on the Red Deer Express Facebook page.
‘Kokanee Grope’ was the term given to the allegation that Justin Trudeau reportedly touched a female reporter in B.C. without her consent in 2000.
“I told her we stand out there Saturdays for Canadian rights and that includes women’s rights as I am a woman with two daughters.”
Wanda Lawrence, who says she was at a Yellow Vest march in Edmonton, says she can’t imagine a comment like that coming from the protesters.
“I have stood with the Yellow Vest various Saturdays and cannot begin to imagine anyone commenting as claimed. Very respectful and caring men and women who have only been polite and courteous to those passing by us.”
But Maetche says she stands behind what she heard and her reaction.
“If that is what he was actually saying, I think it is an inappropriate comment considering it has ‘grope’ in it. It doesn’t support women, it supports his political views.”