More than 1,000 loud but peaceful Torontonians - furious at police tactics, the G20 and seeing their city hijacked - converged on Toronto Police headquarters on College Street late Monday afternoon. Parents, businessmen, protesters and grandparents chanted and drummed in front of dozens of police officers before marching through downtown and converging on Queen's Park for a dance party.
"Whose city?" they yelled, walking down streets that days ago had become scenes of tense and often violent confrontations with the police now flanking them on bikes.
It was Richard Keshen's first protest. He had been observing a march late Sunday afternoon, he says, when he saw protesters, reporters and passersby being hemmed in by police, then held in the rain for hours before mass arrests.
"I was disgusted," he said.
Police have said they believed people within the group of about 200 people had donned masks and were preparing to wreak havoc similar to the damage done to storefronts and property on Saturday. But Mr. Keshen and other observers said they saw nothing like that. He added that if Sunday was an overreaction, he thought the police response to damage Saturday was insufficient. Police Chief Bill Blair has said police simply couldn't be everywhere at once, and more destructive protesters took advantage of that.
"I hope someone steps forward, explains what happens and apologizes," Mr. Keshen said.
The protest started around 5:30 p.m. with people converging on the south sidewalk of College just across from Toronto Police headquarters, then moving onto the street. Angry chants were followed by speeches from activists Judy Rebick and Naomi Klein and people who had been kept at the film studio-turned-G20 detention centre on Eastern Avenue. People marched west along College to University, then to Queen and City Hall - startling Jazz Festival volunteers and crafts vendors at Nathan Phillips Square - before returning up University Avenue to Queen's Park. The march ended with a call to the detention centre, and a drum circle dance party on the south lawn of Queen's Park, where protesters and police faced off Saturday afternoon.
The march was consistently peaceful; the dozens of police on bicycles flanking the crowd made little attempt to interfere with anyone marching, nor did protesters try to breach the lines police set up at intersections along what appeared to be a largely improvised route.
There have been multiple allegations of police misconduct and brutality in connection with the way police arrested and detained more than 900 people in connection with protests surrounding the G20 summit. Several people are planning legal action in connection with arrests and with the public works act put in place prior to the summit that allowed police to arrest people who refused to provide identification or allow their bags to be searched near the fence surrounding the summit security area.
Teresa Fulker and Adriana Alarcon said they'd come to the rally in support of their friends - one of whom was arrested at the Novotel Hotel late Saturday night and another outside the detention centre early Sunday morning, after having gone there for a peaceful but raucous solidarity vigil for those inside.
One woman who says she was held at the detention centre for 24 hours said she saw "extreme mismanagement" there - of police resources as well as arrangements made for people arrested or detained.
"I'm not a rally speaker," Naomi Klein told the cheering crowd. "But I'm pissed off."
She and Ms. Rebick argued peaceful protesters had been unlawfully detained - and "We'll continue this fight," Ms. Rebick said, "in the streets and in the courts."
Protesters continued to pursue Chief Blair Tuesday evening, as a group of about 60 showed up at a Pride event to demand that the chief resign.
The crowd was kept out of the event itself, a reception hosted by Mr. Blair at Pride headquarters on Church Street, but some managed to get into the main floor of the building. Chanting "hey hey, ho ho Bill Blair has got to go," the protesters alleged that queer arrestees were segregated in the temporary detention centre and subjected to homophobic remarks.
Mr. Blair walked past the shouting crowd on his way out as officers held them back. Asked by reporters about the reason for the protesters' anger, Mr. Blair brushed it off.
"Frankly, I wouldn't know and I'm not sure that I care," he said.
With a file from Adrian Morrow
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