Ontario’s police watchdog is investigating an altercation at a Toronto demonstration this weekend that left left seven officers injured — including four who were sent to hospital and have since been released.
The confrontation, which took place early Sunday morning, followed a day when demonstrators gathered across Canada to protest police violence and demand reform.
Rallies were held in Calgary, Halifax, Fredericton, Toronto, Montreal and London.
In Montreal, protesters pulled down the statue of John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. (See Marc Montgomery’s story on this page.)
Many were organized by the Coalition for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Liberation group.
The group’s list of demands includes cutting police funding, the creation of more accessible housing units, reparations for racialized and Indigenous communities and the removal of the RCMP from Indigenous lands.
Community organizers told CBC News that the incident in Toronto that left the officers injured occurred after a person who appeared to be homeless and exhibited signs of mental health issues, who was not a part of the rally, had an “outburst.”
Police, the community organizers said, responded with dozens of officers rather than de-escalation tactics.
Video posted on Twitter shows a man being pinned to the ground by officers.
Watch as Toronto police officers grapple with a man early Sunday morning. *WARNING*: The video below may be disturbing to some viewers.
I was at the Eglington West Rally today
We did a peaceful demonstration and reclaimed the block for the community by holding one portion of the st
A community member was tazed and arrested suddenly after a skirmish in the street that organizers could have deescalated pic.twitter.com/TE3vm5o4VJ
— Sebastián 🇻🇪 (@youlovesebas) August 30, 2020
Police said two people were arrested but did not say what charges they may face.
The demonstration in Toronto came just days after Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit, the province’s police watchdog, said Wednesday it had cleared police police officers of wrongdoing in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
Korchinski-Paquet died after falling from her 24th-floor apartment balcony while police were inside her home.
The protesters said fatal police confrontations involving Black and Indigenous people in Canada cannot be ignored.
The Canadian demonstrations followed protests in the United States over the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Blake was shot by police in the back seven times as he attempted to enter his vehicle with three of his children in his car.
The incident set off a wave of protests and confrontations in the U.S., as well as the temporary shutdown of numerous of sports events–including the NHL playoffs in Canada.
On Saturday, Blakes’s father led a rally in Kenosha.
With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press, Reuters, RCI