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

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

LETTER: An unforgettable birthday

Grace Storteboom of Agassiz thanks everyone for an amazing birthday

Seabird Island community to recieve $2.1 million for community centre

Provincial, federal funding will contribute to local undertaking

Popular retired UFV therapy dog passes away

Mac the Therapy Dog consoled countless students and staff, as well as wildfire victims

Imagination Library Fraser Valley celebrating Christmas in July

Dolly Parton early literacy intiative looking for financial support to help with waitlist

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Fraser Valley

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read