In the wake of a series of heated confrontations and accusations of violence between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s supports and LGBTQ protester at Friday’s annual Ford Fest in Scarborough, Councillor Doug Ford called the whole situation “unfortunate” at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday to celebrate the opening of a new playground in Etobicoke.
Doug, the Mayor’s brother and campaign manager, said that while he and his brother have apologized to the people involved he said that he has spoken to people who were part of the altercation and has been told that the mayor’s supporters were being provoked by his critics.
“I apologized to the guy but when I talked to the other people they said that this guy came up and started to call [them] names and called them racist and he’s looking for a fight,” he said. “You don’t show up to Yankee stadium with a Boston Red Sox hat on and start throwing racial slurs to the Yankees. It doesn’t work out.
“Why do that at a family barbecue? The whole thing is unfortunate.”
On Friday, thousands of people took to Scarborough’s Thomson Memorial Park for the 19th annual Ford Fest. While the evening began with guests lining up in the hundreds for free hamburgers and Ford Fest T-Shirts by about 7:30 p.m., there had been several loud clashes, including reports that protesters had been assaulted, and had their signs torn up.
Don Whittemore, 62, said that he had to ask a bystander to call police after he said he was assaulted by an angry Ford supporter. Mr. Whittemore, who said he is not affiliated with any political organization, was draped in a Pride flag and carried a pink umbrella as a reference to the Sugar Beach umbrellas that the mayor has railed against.
“This guy started shouting some rather uncomplimentary things to a certain segment of our population, so I turned around and confronted him,” he said. “He hit me in the forehead, grabbed my hat, and they started pushing me, telling me to go home.”
On Saturday, Toronto Police said no charges have been laid.
Poe Liberado, a spokesperson for Queeruption, said that a group of about a dozen activists attended Ford Fest to challenge Mr. Ford’s stance on the LGBTQ community.
“We are not going to stand for Rob Ford to be pulling back our rights” she said.
With files from Ann Hui and Kat Sieniuc