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

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
UPDATED: Victoria police arrest high-risk parolee with history of bank robbery

Citizen alerts cops after spotting parolee on Pandora Avenue

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Saanich implements single-lane traffic stretch on Prospect Lake Road along Clavert Park. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Saanich makes one-way traffic permanent on segment of Prospect Lake Road

Prospect Lake Road to close near Calvert Park Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for construction

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read