Demonstrators gather outside Toronto Police Headquarters after taking part in a rally protesting the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in downtown Toronto, Saturday May 30, 2020. Korchinski-Paquet, 29, fell from the balcony of a 24th-floor Toronto apartment while police were in the home. Thousands of protesters took to the streets to rally in the aftermath of high-profile, police-involved deaths in both Canada and the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of downtown Toronto on Saturday, chanting “justice for Regis” as they rallied in the aftermath of high-profile, police-involved deaths in both Canada and the United States.

The protest follows the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto on Tuesday, which is currently being probed by the province’s police watchdog. The 29-year-old fell from the balcony of a 24th-floor Toronto apartment while police were in the home.

“We’ve been protesting and now everyone is watching and now people are mobilizing. We can see the power we have in numbers so this won’t stop any time soon,” said Cara McArthur, who is black, Cree and Sioux.

The peaceful rally, organized by a group dubbed Not Another Black Life, also came on the heels of an incident in Minnesota that has triggered protests in the United States, some of which have turned violent.

A police officer is now facing a murder charge in the death of George Floyd, a black man caught on film pleading for air as an officer knelt on his neck.

READ MORE: ‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

In Toronto, protesters chanted chanted “not another black life,” “abolish the police,” and “no justice, no peace” as they wound through the downtown streets clad in face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence.

A heavy police presence followed the rally, which ended at Toronto police headquarters instead of its scheduled finish at Queen’s Park.

A small group protesting COVID-19 lockdowns was gathered there on Saturday, and Not Another Black Life explained the change in plans on Instagram.

“We are not going to Queen’s Park due to white supremacy,” they wrote.

A lawyer representing Korchinski-Paquet’s family said her relatives do not want to see violence, only answers as to how and why she died.

In a statement released Saturday, lawyer Knia Singh says the family did not organize or plan the protest. The family says it thanks organizers for bringing attention to a “very serious matter.”

Earlier in the week, Korchinski-Paquet’s mother said that she called officers to the apartment asking them to take her daughter to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She said she never thought her daughter could have ended up dead.

At the protest, McArthur said that was incomprehensible.

“A mother shouldn’t call the police for help and the result of the call is her being taken away in a body bag,” she said. “It shouldn’t happen when someone calls the police. They’re supposedly here to help.”

Mayor John Tory called the community’s anger over Korchinski-Paquet’s death understandable, describing anti-black racism as “a fact in our society” and encouraging protesters to practise physical distancing in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, police said hundreds attended a similar protest in Halifax on Saturday. No arrests were made.

“We respect the public’s right to a peaceful protest,” Staff Sgt. R. Scott MacDonald said.

“Police were on hand simply to ensure the safety of the participants and the public. We appreciate that attendees conducted themselves in a peaceful manner.”

A rally also is scheduled for Montreal on Sunday.

— With files from Kevin Bissett.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaracismToronto

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Finding freedom in expression through painting

Vanderhoof painter talks about her love for painting and the difficult questions artists are faced with.

District and Airport development society in disagreement over new apron

User group says there are safety hazards, and the district of Vanderhoof says otherwise.

Vanderhoof will have its own cannabis store Tuesday

This is the 18th government-run store to open in the province.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

District of Vanderhoof upgrading council chambers

No information has been provided about the specifics of the project.

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read