Hate Has No Space in Our City

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair

Writer/Photographer

Office of the Chief

Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw has made it clear that demonstrations or people congregating on the Avenue Rd. bridge over Highway 401 will be no longer be permitted and there will be arrests if necessary.

“This is an overpass over the busiest highway in Canada, it is a piece of critical infrastructure and we are very concerned about ability to deliver community safety and well-being in the immediate actions that transpire under the bridge,” he said at a news conference at police headquarters on January 11. “I have an obligation and officers have an obligation to keep the peace and keep things safe. The Highway Traffic Act affords us certain powers which we will utilize as appropriate.”

Since events in the Middle East began on October 7, police have managed an unprecedented 308 protests and demonstrations that are escalating and becoming more confrontational, creating public safety concerns for the public and officers.

“As I have been saying for months now, hate and intimidation must have no space in our city and the Toronto Police Service has been unwavering in our determination to restore the sense of public safe,” said Chief Demkiw. “Actions that cross the line to criminal activity, including threats, assaults, mischief or arson as we saw at a Jewish-owned deli in North York last week will not be tolerated.”

Last Sunday, officers arrested and charged a 41-year-old man with Public Incitement of Hatred.

“Our members observed him carrying the flag of a terrorist organization listed by Public Safety Canada and arrested him,” said the Chief. “We are taking a different perspective based on the information and experiences of our communities. We are going to ensure that our communities feel safe in every way we can. We will not be allowing criminal intimidation of our communities. As matters unfold, we will look at them on a case-by-case basis and we will take appropriate action as required.”

Since last October, Toronto Police has arrested 54 people and laid 117 alleged hate-motivated charges.

“It is why we are maintaining our highly visible presence and command posts and officers are working tirelessly to keep our city safe,” Demkiw added. “I want to thank our members who support our all-of-Service operational response to Project Resolute. Despite the city cutting $12.6 million from the Police Services Board approved Service-operated budget, our members continue to show up every day doing incredible work during these unprecedented times even as our resources are strained more than ever.”

Chief Demkiw raised concerns about the city’s reducing the Service’s budget yesterday after it was approved by the police board in December.

“As I have said, costs cannot be further reduced without taking unacceptable risks. Otherwise, the Service will have no prospect of delivering adequate and effective policing services as required in our legislation.”

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