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Police monitoring chatter of 'some sort of misbehaviour' at peaceful weekend protest
TORONTO -- Mayor John Tory says that police have been made aware of some online chatter suggesting that a peaceful protest against anti-black racism this weekend “could be accompanied by some sort of misbehaviour.”
There are unconfirmed reports that the group Black Lives Matter is organizing a demonstration that will begin at Trinity Bellwoods Park at 2 p.m. on Saturday and then end outside Queen’s Park later that afternoon.
A flyer, purportedly from the group, 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.”
The planned demonstration comes on the heels of another peaceful protest against anti-black racism last weekend that saw an estimated 4,000 people gather at Christie Pitts Park and then march along Bloor Street without incident.
Tory, however, told CP24 on Wednesday that police will nonetheless be monitoring things after receiving some information suggesting that a Saturday protest could be infiltrated by people looking to “wreak havoc downtown.”
Tory was careful to point out that he believes those unspecified threats are largely the musings of “tiny little minority of people who sit in their basements in the dark and send these kind of messages and incitements back and forth to each other.”
He also added that anti-black racism is a “lived reality” faced by people across the city and that he will welcome continued protests to “move things forward and draw attention” to the issue, so long as they remain peaceful.
“We should have protests if that is what people feel is going to move things forward and draw attention, which is perfectly warranted, but let’s keep it peaceful because that is the way we do things here and I am sure that is the way it will unfold,” he said.
Several downtown businesses boarded up windows this week
Protests have been erupting across the United States in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd last week.
While the protests have mostly been peaceful, there has also been reports of a group of people participating in rioting and looting in a number of U.S. cities.
On Monday a number of downtown Toronto businesses were seen boarding up their windows amid the unrest south of the border, however the boarding put up at the Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores on Queen Street West was later taken down.
Speaking with CP24, Tory said that the unspecified information” about possible weekend unrest “ is in the hands of the police” and that “everybody is preparing for it.”
“Hopefully they are just preparing for one more peaceful demonstration and hopefully one where people, as best as they can, take the advice of the medical officer of health into account because that is still a reality too,” he said of the threat posed by COVID-19.