Four charged at dueling protests at Nathan Phillips Square
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Saturday, October 21, 2017 5:17PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 21, 2017 7:40PM EDT
Four people were arrested and charged by police as opposing groups of demonstrators met at Nathan Phillips Square Saturday afternoon and faced off over issues including Justin Trudeau’s leadership and immigration policy.
A collection of far-right demonstrators gathered at the square as part of the “Let Trudeau know he has to go” rally, organized in part by Ronny Cameron.
He said the rally had nothing to with immigration, Islam, or other grievances of the far-right and was squarely focused on Prime Minister Trudeau’s policies.
“The left likes to make people think that this is about more than Justin Trudeau — that it’s a white supremacist rally, but no this is just an anti-Trudeau rally. There are many people that oppose Justin Trudeau and what he’s doing right now.”
He said his group was confronted by anti-fascists as soon as they arrived.
“As soon as we turned a corner, Antifa rushed us, they started getting into our face, they just started throwing punches, they started kicking,” Cameron said.
Police told CP24 four people were arrested.
SSgt. Kazimierz Konkel said one person was found allegedly carrying pepper spray, one other person was charged with assaulting a peace officer, and two others were charged with causing a disturbance.
“It was a long, long drawn out struggle to keep the peace,” Kazimierz said.
The groups grew to include several dozen demonstrators each at their peak, separated by a line of uniformed police officers.
Cameron said the demonstration he helped organize is not about white supremacy, but counter-demonstrators say Saturday’s rally is the continuation of a trend.
“There’s been a serious rise of far-right hate groups and white supremacist organizations showing up not just across our city but specifically convening at Nathan Phillips Square,” Sarah Ali of Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere said.
Ali blamed the violence and resulting police detentions on Cameron and the anti-Trudeau demonstrators.
“Parties from both sides were arrested,” Kazimierz said when asked which groups the arrested parties came from.
The rallies are the latest iteration of a series of demonstrations held in front of city hall that target Trudeau’s policies on immigration, the denunciation of Islamophobia and acceptance of refugees.
“These are the same folks and same groups we’ve seen since the beginning of the year and to be frank, since the election in the United States emboldened people with a far-right ideology and white supremacist rhetoric.”
But Cameron said Saturday’s gathering was meant to highlight other concerning issues about the Trudeau government, such as the high deficit.
“(Trudeau) promised Canadians he wouldn’t run a deficit beyond $10 billion and we now have a $28.5 billion deficit, so that’s huge.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement after the rallies concluded saying he supports everyone's right to assembly, but those assemblies should not promote hate.
"There is absolutely no place for hate in Toronto. Everyone has a right to protest peacefully in this city and in this country. But protests that include hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism or homophobia are not welcome here," he said.