Toronto police say they are investigating a disturbing video from a protest at City Hall over the weekend that shows a man being swarmed and beaten with a wooden stick.
The alleged assault took place during a rally that drew about 5,000 people to Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday from approximately 6:30 to 11 p.m. The demonstration, organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, was in response to violence in the Gaza Strip.
“We are still actively investigating attendees and organizers of these events and they may be receiving charges in the days and weeks following,” said Constable David Hopkinson, a media relations officer with the Toronto Police. “There could be other crimes, even hate-motivated crimes, that we might have to investigate.”
Constable Hopkinson was not able to provide details about the identify of the victim, but several Jewish organizations have identified the man as a pro-Israel demonstrator.
The rally in Toronto was one of several held across Canada on Saturday amid growing violence in the Middle East. As of Sunday, 188 people have been killed in Gaza and 10 people have been killed in Israel, according to Reuters.
In separate incidents, Toronto police said a 22-year-old man from Thornhill, Ont., who attended Saturday’s protest was charged with assault. A 29-year-old man from Toronto has been charged with bringing a weapon to a public meeting.
Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement Sunday condemning the actions seen in the video, which was posted to social media. The video appears to show a masked man wearing a Palestinian flag using a wooden stick to attack a man. A second masked man appears to swing at the victim.
“Hate, antisemitism and violence have no place in our city,” Mr. Tory said in a statement in response to the video. “Any violence against our city’s Jewish community or members of any other community in Toronto is absolutely unacceptable.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also released a statement on Twitter Sunday in response to the video.
“These acts of violence and expression of antisemitism have no place in Ontario. This behaviour is totally reprehensible and should be investigated by the police,” he said. “Discrimination or hatred of any kind against any community in our province should never be tolerated.”
Police are asking anyone who might have been in the area and may have information regarding the incident to contact investigators at 52 Division.
“We will also be canvassing the area looking for businesses that might have security cam or Nest cam video so we can get other video showing us different angles and more information about the events,” Constable Hopkinson said.
Police are urging patience as the investigation unfolds.
“It’s an ongoing process,” Constable Hopkinson said.
“It will take some time.”
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