A man was arrested in Toronto, Canada, after showing up to an anti-racism protest in blackface. The incident took place at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, where anti-racism gatherings were planned for Saturday. Protests have been occurring in Canada in support of the protests in the U.S. following George Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25.
The protests have been mostly peaceful, but things got tense after the man showed up to the rally with his face, neck and hands all covered in black paint. Videos of the event have been shared on Twitter showing protesters confronting the man. Soon after, police officers arrived on the scene and escorted the man out of the square as people asked law enforcement to arrest him.
Here are some videos of the incident shared to Twitter:
A media relations officer with the Toronto Police Service told Heavy that the man was arrested due to a “breach of the peace” but that no charges have been laid at this time. His name has not been released to the public.
The Man Told Protesters He Can Wear Blackface If He Wants to & Laughed Before Being Escorted Away by Police
In a video of the event posted to Twitter, bystanders ask him, “What are you doing here? Why are you here?” While others tell him: “You gotta go!” The man stands with his hands on his hips, smiling, in a dark St. Patrick Patriots sweater. In another video, he is surrounded by several police officers and even more protesters yelling at him. He yells back, “If I want to put this on my face I can put it on my face.” One protester responds, “You’re f**king disrespectful! You’re a shame to all of Canada.”
In another clip, several police officers are seen escorting the man out of the square. A few protesters follow, asking for his arrest and telling the individual, “This is not what Canada’s about, you’re trying to divide everybody with your racist views.”
A Toronto police spokesperson told Heavy that the arrest was due to a “breach of the peace” and the police’s “inquiries continue” into the incident. The individual in question is being held at a police station in downtown Toronto.
Protests Have Been Taking Place in Various Canadian Cities Following George Floyd’s Death in Police Custody
George Floyd died in police custody on May 25 and a harrowing video of the incident went viral soon after. Since then, people have been protesting in the streets in many American cities, some of which have been peaceful and others that have become violent. Protests also spread to other countries, including Canada, with anti-racism events and vigils taking place across the country.
Dozens of Canadian cities held rallies and protests in the past week, including Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary, Toronto and others. In the nation’s capital, thousands showed up on Friday chanting “Enough is enough” and “I can’t breathe,” protesting against police brutality and racism. Canada’s leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, also attended the Ottawa rally, kneeling on the ground with other protesters.
A Toronto rally on Friday saw people marching through the streets. Its organizers told CBC that their goal was to open up a dialogue between the community and local leaders about racism and violence. Protesters also sang happy birthday to Breonna Taylor, the Kentucky emergency medical technician who was shot and killed by police in her apartment in March. June 5 would have been her 27th birthday.