Earlier, after speeches from union leaders at Queen's Park, thousands of demonstrators poured into the city's downtown in the rolling protest. Led by a contingent of women and unions, they shouted "Maternal health care includes abortion."
By about 2 p.m. ET, the protest reached Queen Street West, where they were met with a line of bicycle officers. A line of riot police stood shoulder to shoulder one block south at Richmond Street West, forming a line of defence. Riot police holding bean bag guns also diverted demonstrators from the American consulate on University Avenue.
Two people were arrested with "incendiary devices" at Dundas Street West and University Avenue before the protest began. A Toronto police sergeant said that police had seized several Molotov cocktails.
"Everyone is just walking around saying what they believe in and [the police are]intimidating us," said David Sams, a self-identified anarchist from Detroit with his face covered by a black balaclava. "This is nonsense, they're protecting the wealthy."
All along Queen Street, shop employees looked on, amused. "What are you looking at?" one protester asked, "Go back to work!"
An employee at the Neon clothing store said she felt safe, despite the thousands of protesters filing past her window. "The store's still open," she said. "They can come in and shop." As she said this, two demonstrators, a woman and her daughter, walked into the store.
Before the rally began, the protesters waited on the south lawn of the provincial legislature huddled under a colourful canopy of umbrellas while others held folded newspapers over their heads. The rain caused ink on handwritten placards to bleed. A group of drummers kept the crowd dancing and free Tibet activists formed a chanting circle, saying: "Tibet belongs to Tibetans!" Busloads of union members arrived all morning to join the protests. Most of the assembled crowd were union members, with banners and union logos everywhere.
With reports from Natalie Stechyson, Laura Blenkinsop, Katie Hewitt, Jeff Gray, Colin Freeze, Sarah Boesveld, Cigdem Iltan, Matt Frehner, Chris Hannay and Anna Mehler Paperny