Saturday, May 06, 2017

Protest at Toronto City Hall

Two sets of protesters shouted across dividing lines of Toronto Police officers in Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday, May 6, 2017. I wasn't aware of the event before I came above ground from the parking lot and saw flags and a crowd near the entrance to City Hall and it quickly became apparent that the police were serious about keeping the groups apart, for good reason as they came to blows later.
The first thing I noted was that there was a group closest to the entrance and some of the people were wearing helmets. Then there was a line of police in bright yellow coats, then a line of bike police in darker yellow coats followed by a line of their bicycles and finally there were a bunch of people looking towards the other protesters and many of these people were wearing masks. It seemed a bit tense and I wasn't too sure what was going on except that it was a very divisive protest that seemed to involve a lot of noise and large speakers. I couldn't understand what they were saying so I took pictures and hoped to find out what was going on later.
It was billed as free speech rally against M-103 from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Now I had to look up M-103 and found it to be a private member's motion to condemn Islamophobia, racism and religious discrimination which was passed March 23, 2017. Put forward by Liberal backbencher MP Iqra Khalid with the stated purpose of reducing the climate of hate and fear in Canada. The protesters had Canadian flags and appeared to be against terrorism which they associate with Muslims and attacks against free speech which has put them against those that support M-103, so protesters showed up to protest the M-103 protesters. There were more anti-protesters than the original M-103 protesters. This protest has taken place, in one form or another, several time this year alone including the recent one on March 4.
I had only recently become aware of the antifa because of the many for and against Trump protests in the United States, they are anti-Trump. Antifa is short for Anti Fascists and the people in masks had a large banner saying 'Toronto Against Fascism'. A short check of the net shows the group is fast to use violence as a tool against the alt-right and as a result those that they protest against have started wearing helmets for protection.
Members of the Jewish Defense League at the protest

See more of the protest after the jump.
Police and the protesters
Police in between the groups

Police and the anti-protesters

The line of bicycles were quickly replaced with temporary barricades

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