Tensions build in Toronto ahead of public debate against anti-masker Chris Sky
A local community group is urging the organizers of a Saturday event in Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood to reconsider the potential repercussions of pitting two prominent voices from opposite sides of the political spectrum against one another during a live, in-person public face-off.
Toronto lawyer, activist and artist Caryma Sa'd is scheduled to interview the famously antagonistic anti-lockdown poster boy Chris Sky (real name Chris Saccoccia) on July 10 at a new "weed-friendly outdoor comedy venue" called 420 Cannabis Court.
An exact time for the event will not be released until the day of, but promotional materials promise that it will be streamed live. NOW Magazine reports that 25 people will also be allowed to watch the show in person.
The IRL event will be outdoors, held within the courtyard of Chinatown Centre at 222 Spadina Ave., a space otherwise known as the Chinatown Anti Displacement Garden.
It's also of note that Sa'd and Sky have been beefing online, very publicly, for months.
"As members of the downtown Chinatown and Kensington community, we are deeply concerned that an event has been planned for this Saturday, July 10th, platforming a known racist anti-vax public figure in the Chinatown Anti-Displacement Garden, located in the courtyard of the Chinatown Centre on Spadina Ave.," reads a message distributed by the Friends of Kensington Market (FOTM) on Friday.
Calling Sky a "known agitator from anti-mask, anti-lockdown, and anti-vax rallies across the country," the group points out that Sky was recently arrested and criminally charged for allegedly uttering death threats, assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, and the dangerous operation of a vehicle.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the 37-year-old public figure's legal troubles: He's been arrested and charged multiple times since the pandemic hit for violating the federal quarantine act and causing disturbances, among other things.
"Using his public platform and private social networks, Sky inspires copycat actions such as the harassment of small and large businesses on camera," reads the FOTM post.
"We have concerns that those sharing his sentiments against businesses and racialized individuals will be in attendance, resistant to following the 'physical distancing' advertised in event promotions."
FOKM is concerned that the event could put vulnerable community members at risk, as Sky's anti-mask supporters obviously refuse to abide by most public health orders.
"A crowd of unvaccinated anti-maskers would endanger racialized, senior community members, especially during a time when various grassroots organizations have been working to get first and second doses to the neighbourhood with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city," the group continues.
"As community members we do not condone this event, and we express our genuine concern for those who live and work in the neighbourhood. We urge that this event be canceled for the safety of the community."
Sa'd addressed the concerns on Instagram Friday afternoon, writing on Instagram that "contingency plans are in place for as many variables as I could imagine."
"As we've seen time and again, it isn't possible to debate (or even converse with) someone like Chris Sky," wrote the prominent Toronto lawyer. "But I want to try breaking into the echo chamber in my way."
Said Sky of the event on Instagram: "Because I welcome dissenting voices... and we all know she's been DYING to meet me."
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