TORONTO, March 21, 2016 /CNW/ - At approximately 9:30 pm this evening, Toronto Police officers surrounded and ambushed dozens of peaceful protestors who were participating in a Black Lives Matter action (#BLMTOtentcity). Without warning or order to disperse, the police formed a line around protestors and pushed through. Early reports include people being punched, shoved, slammed to the ground, and physically assaulted in other ways by officers. The crowd was composed of young people, women, children, and some elders.
"They came out of nowhere. We formed a circle around a fire and were chanting, when all of a sudden a number of siren cars appeared," said Yasmin Mumed, one of the protestors attacked. "We were distracted for a second and before I could turn my head, I heard and saw over a dozen cops run up and start to push us around. I was then dragged and pushed on the ground. I am a 5 foot 6 woman, who poses no physical threat to any of them. If this was not an example of excessive use of force, I don't know what was."
Toronto Police has seized the opportunity to tear down and confiscate tents, food and water stations, signs, and community member's personal items, including cellphones and wallets.
"When we talk about police violence, we are referring to a system that grants officers absolute permission to inflict violence on people like us," says Yusra Khogali an organizer with Black Lives Matter - Toronto. "It is it ironic that as we are out here protesting police abuse of power, the police prove to us just how careless they are for maintaining peace and trust within the community. Mayor Tory and Chief Saunders, these acts of violence are on you. Your silence and inaction leads to violence. Our bruises and blood are on your hands. You should be ashamed of yourself."
Activists have spent over 24 hours outside Toronto Police Services Headquarters in protest over recent cases of anti-Black racism, including a number of incidents of police's use of excessive force on Black community members. Yesterday, hundreds of community members came to protest and denounce the Special Investigation Unit's decision not to indict the officers who killed Andrew Loku, the city's decision to shrink Afrofest, and the recent police killing of Alex Wettlaufer.
Black Lives Matter-Toronto is the Toronto chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, an international organization and movement fighting anti-Black racism all over the world.
SOURCE Black Lives Matter Toronto
For further information: Sandy Hudson at info@blacklivesmatterTO.ca or 416-722-8842; Rodney Diverlus at info@blacklivesmatterTO.ca or 647-456-8476