protests in toronto

More anti-racism protests planned in Toronto this weekend

Rumblings of large political demonstrations and protests against anti-Black racism in Toronto have prompted several high-profile retailers to board up their storefronts recently for fear of being looted.

One such rally, rumoured to be taking place Monday night in Nathan Phillips Square, never happened. Stores nonetheless remain boarded up downtown and citizens are asking why.

Are more protests scheduled in honour of Regis Korchinski Paquet, a 29-year-old woman who died during an interaction with Toronto Police last week? Where and when will these rallies take place? Who is organizing them and how can the public participate?

The answers to some of these questions remain unclear, but suffice to say more than one demonstration will be happening in Toronto this weekend.

Both Toronto Police and Mayor John Tory have confirmed that they are aware of "social media postings" promoting protest events in Toronto on Saturday and that they've recieved unspecified threats from people who want to "wreak havoc downtown."

Tory called those posting such threats a "tiny little minority of people who sit in their basements in the dark," but stores are nonetheless battening down in case riots break out in Toronto like those still raging across the U.S. over the brutal police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Up to 4,000 people are estimated to have attended a peaceful protest in Toronto on Saturday to call for justice in the cases of Floyd, Korchinski-Paquet and thousands of other Black lives lost to police violence in recent decades.

Not a single arrest was made during the protest and no stores were looted. Toronto kept it classy and there's no (public) reason to expect that things will get nasty at protests on Friday and Saturday.

CP24 reports that Black Lives Matter is organizing a demonstration that will begin at 2 p.m in Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday and finish outside Queen's Park.

Black Lives Matter Toronto has yet to respond to a request for comment, but a poster describes the event as a "peaceful protest against the deaths of unarmed Black people at the hands of police officers and the racism they continuously face."

Another event scheduled for Saturday, June 6, is billed as "a peaceful walk for Black lives lost to police brutality and racism." The solidarity walk is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in Nathan Phillips Square.

UPDATE: BLM has stated that it is not organizing any events for this weekend. Attendees are advised not to attend the event in Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday over concerns of rioting, and to proceed with caution if attending the event in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Posters for a "student solidarity event" outside Toronto City Hall at 2 p.m. on Saturday are also circulating.

"This is a peaceful demonstration to our government that we demand the U.S. government be held accountable for their brutalizations of our neighbours, and to recognize the injustices of our own country," reads the description of that event.

"All in attendance must comply to social distancing orders."

A number of protest events are also planned for Friday, June 5, including a peaceful "I can't breathe Toronto" march beginning at Bloor-Yonge Subway station at 12:30 p.m.

"This Friday we walk in peace for Justice," writes an organizer for the latter event. "Unity is gorgeous but I need justice first. Do not come with your own personal agenda, ego, or misconduct."

The event is described as a "peaceful protests/walk" and "safe social rally." Attendees are asked to respect COVID-19 emergency orders, wear masks and bring horns or signs to share their messages.

Rallies are also planned in both Nathan Phillips Square and Yonge-Dundas Square on Friday at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.

While the legitimacy of any protests has yet to be confirmed, we can say with certainty that the group behind last Saturday's peaceful protest, Not Another Black Life, is refraining from hosting another event out of respect for social distancing orders mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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