Almost a week after some of his officers violently cleared out a peaceful Palestine solidarity protest on the University of Alberta campus, Edmonton Police Chief Dale McPhee finally showed up Thursday to make his case at a police commission meeting.

But not before the doors were locked and the public was barred from the meeting because 100 or so still-peaceful protesters made the official participants nervous.

Notwithstanding the metal detectors and heavy security at Edmonton City Hall since a shooting in January, protesters were told they’d have to watch the proceedings online because, in the words of commission chair John McDougall, “we had our back to a very, very large crowd. Admittedly they were peaceful… but when you know you have angry people behind you and you can’t see what’s going on, that’s a bit of a challenge.”

Well, nobody likes criticism. I guess no one thought to suggest that if it made them that uncomfortable to have people staring at their backs and grumbling, they could always turn their chairs around. Really, people, you can’t make this stuff up.

For his part, McPhee can be heard on various news organizations’ broadcasts claiming that his officers “protect free speech and we protect the very essential right of free expression, when both police and protesters respect their rights and responsibilities.”

On Saturday, in the chief’s opinion, those protesters’ responsibilities, apparently, included not camping on the campus of a public university even though there’s plenty of legal opinion that in fact they had every right to do just that.