The murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and the video documenting it all has the world shaken. People from Los Angeles to London to Berlin are taking to the streets to demonstrate, carrying the Black Lives Matter issue into 2020 in a bombastic manner.
In Canada, groups rallied against the systemic racism that plagues institutions like law enforcement with mostly peaceful marches and gathings in cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, and Calgary, while other protests in Montreal turned violent.
Here’s a list of the protests that took place in centres across Canada last week and over the weekend, plus a few more planned for this week.
In Toronto, the death of resident Regis Korchinski-Paquet, which is still under investigation, is adding to the issue. Last week, with police having been summoned by her family to their 24th-storey High Park apartment, 29-year-old Korchinski-Paquet fell from the balcony to her death.
Thousands marched through downtown Toronto on Saturday, most wearing masks, many carrying signs with messages like “Not Another Black Life,” “Justice for Regis,” and “Black Lives Matter.”
At one point, an apartment dweller tossed a bucket of water and Pine-Sol out a window onto protesters below, prompting boos and all the middle fingers available to be sent his way.
Mayor John Tory characterized racism as “a fact in our society” and called for protesters to continue to physically distance themselves.
Korchinski-Paquet’s Nova Scotian roots were on display over the weekend as around 700 people eschewed COVID-19 public health recommendations to attend the Justice for Regis rally in Halifax.
Protesters started at Victoria Park and walked to the Halifax Regional Police building where they chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police.” No arrests were made.
Montreal played host to a nasty scene on Sunday evening after a peaceful gathering of thousands of people broke down into pockets of violence, vandalism, and looting. Police say some members of the crowd began throwing objects at them after hours of peaceful marching, prompting the gathering to be deemed illegal and police to retaliate with pepper spray and tear gas. But not everybody went home.
Hundreds of shop windows wound up smashed and their contents burglarized, and clashes with authorities continued throughout the evening. Montreal police have arrested 11 people for breaking and entering, assault with a weapon and mischief, and are investigating 60-plus more cases.
Event organizers are speaking out after the event saying they don’t want the irresponsible and violent behaviour of a few to diminish the message peacefully demonstrated by thousands. The next Montreal rally is scheduled for Sunday.
On Saturday, a group of about 100 Vancouverites marched peacefully through the rainy streets in the Downtown Eastside to promote anti-racism.
And on Sunday evening another peaceful protest, which wasn’t organized by Black Lives Matter Vancouver but was given support by the group, was held in front the Vancouver Art Gallery, drawing an estimated 3,500 people.
Physical distancing was encouraged by organizers, and masks and hand sanitizer were given out to some. Vancouver authorities are now encouraging people who participated in this weekend’s protests to self isolate for 14 days in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
Calgary’s demonstrators built off a Sunday gathering of about 100 people in Fish Creek Park with a Monday morning march of thousands. Attendees made their way through the downtown core, some lying flat on the ground and chanting “I can’t breathe” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” before gathering at city hall.
More is planned this week in Calgary, including a protest and candlelight vigil on Wednesday, which will start in Kensington, as well as a larger gathering on Saturday, June 6th City Hall.
In the country’s capital, a small group assembled on the steps of the U.S. Embassy on Saturday to show solidarity for the global movement.
A larger peaceful protest is planned for Friday, June 5th at 3 pm. Folks will gather at the U.S. Embassy and then march to Parliament Hill.
The 250-person-strong crowd that gathered at City Hall in Saskatoon on Saturday was small, but mighty. Organizer Char Durocher, who lives in Saskatoon, led the group, which remained peaceful.
On Monday, a crowd of over 500 people in Moncton, New Brunswick gathered for an anti-racism rally outside of Moncton City Hall. The peaceful rally was organized by high school student Nellys Kalgora, who told Global News that racism still exists in smaller cities like Moncton. “Us people of colour, we have to speak out, we have to tell them,” she said. “We have to make people realize."