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Toronto rallies against racism and police brutality

By: 
Pam Johnson

May 31, 2020

Thousands turned out on the streets of Toronto on May 30 to take part in a protest in memory of Regis Korchinski-Paquet and to call for police accountability. Her murder happened days after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

A huge wave of protest and anger has swept across the US and now Canada that has wiped Covid-19 off the mainstream media. Thousands have taken to the streets protesting the uptick of police brutality against the black community since the pandemic lockdown. This is on top the impact of the coronavirus itself in which black people are more than twice as likely to get and die of it.

Toronto protest organizers said, “We’ve been faced with the tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Regis Korchiniski-Paquet and countless other black people we do not know of or hear of who are relentlessly being murdered by the police and white supremacists for absolutely no reason. We are joining the chorus of actions being taken across Turtle Island and globally, to get accountability and justice from police departments for Black and Indigenous communities.”
 

To keep protesters safe, organizers created a Covid specific protocol calling for social distancing, groups of three or less, and asked all participants to wear masks.

The specific demands of this protest were 1) that charges be brought against the police officers involved at Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s apartment, 2) that there be an independent investigation, 3) that there be increased oversight of the SIU, the body that investigates violent police incidents. Although her family declined to be directly involved with the protests, they posted a video thanking organizers and the community for the outpouring of support.

This protest marks the first return to mass protests on the streets of Toronto. The anger and frustration was palpable and fuelled by events in both US and Canada and the inequities that have become ever more starkly apparent during the pandemic.

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The crowd was diverse and a majority were young. Indigenous activists, teachers, trade unionists, socialists, climate activists, disability activists were there. Dozens of hand made signs carried the slogan: Black Lives Matter but also Smash Racism, Defund the Police, Money Housing not for Police.

The protest marched through downtown Toronto and ended at Toronto Police headquarters, the same location that was at the centre of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2016.