Hundreds of protesters marched Saturday afternoon from Toronto City Hall to kneel and observe a moment of contemplation outside the US consulate, which faces the Ontario Superior Court. Vehicles honked the passing of the kneeling crowd, which carried signs which read “Black lives matter”, “Stop killing us” and “No peace without justice”.
An investigator from the Toronto Police Service placed his knee on the ground with the participants in an emotional moment.
“These are not protesters, they are ambassadors for peace,” he said in an interview with the CP24 network.
A second demonstration was underway Saturday at Queen’s Park in Toronto, as well as another in Niagara Falls, where the Whirlpool Bridge crossing the Canada-United States border will be closed to non-essential traffic to accommodate protesters.
Other events scheduled for Sunday
In Quebec, a demonstration attracted a thousand people to Trois-Rivières, said The Nouvelliste.
In St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, radio station VOCM reports that several thousand people gathered in the afternoon outside the seat of the Legislative Assembly.
Other anti-racism protests are planned this weekend in several Canadian cities to speak out against police violence against black people. These rallies are part of the wave of indignation raised by the images of the arrest of George Floyd, this African-American who died with the knee of a policeman pressed against his neck for almost nine minutes, last week, at Minneapolis.
On the Montreal side, a walk is planned for the second consecutive Sunday in downtown.
Its organizers withdrew the invitation to the director of the Montreal City Police Service (SPVM), Sylvain Caron, on Saturday, after members of the black community opposed his presence. On Twitter, the SPVM said it respected this decision and recalled that its agents will still be present “to ensure the security of the event”.
Parallel rallies will take place in Quebec City, opposite the National Assembly, and in Sherbrooke, at Place de la Gare.
Support from the Mayor of Toronto
A demonstration in Toronto on Friday drew thousands of attendees to city hall singing and waving signs that read “Demilitarize the police” and “Say their names” – a slogan calling for the people to remember the victims of police brutality.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said Friday’s protest was peaceful and said he hoped Saturday’s protest would be as well. “The message from these protesters is that we must involve everyone and mobilize all efforts to end racism against black and indigenous people and all forms of discrimination in this city, and to make it the most inclusive city in the world” , he said on Saturday. “This is the message and it is clear. “
The city’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, highlighted the risks associated with these large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She urged protesters to maintain a distance of two meters between them and cover their faces if this is not possible, but also to take extra precautions.
Dr. De Villa invited them to make signs and bring drums rather than shouting to avoid dropping droplets into the air that could spread the virus.