Extra officers, more cameras and road blocks: Toronto police prepare for 14 protests this weekend

Toronto police are boosting their visible presence over the city this weekend in anticipation of more than a dozen large-scale demonstrations set to take place downtown on Saturday and Sunday.

At a news conference Friday morning, police Chief James Ramer said about 14 different rallies are expected this weekend, some small and others large. The goal is to maintain a lawful and peaceful presence, said Ramer, while ensuring nothing gets out of line.

“The Toronto Police Service always aims to ensure public safety while working to limit disruption in the city, to its businesses and residents as much as possible, as demonstrators exercise their right to free speech peacefully,” said Ramer.

“While the Toronto police will always support peaceful demonstration, I want to be very clear that we will not tolerate any intimidation, harassment or hate-motivated behavior aimed at specific communities.”

He noted there has been an increase in hate-motivated incidents in the city, and that police are committed to investigating every single one of these occurrences, which are “sadly becoming common.” Toronto police is set to present its annual hate-crime report to the board next week.

Police have warned the anticipated demonstrations could lead to traffic delays and possibly trigger some road closures to ensure public safety. Police will be implementing both rolling and static road closures while redirecting people and traffic through the demonstrations.

Chief Ramer said in addition to on-duty police officers, police will deploy officers from its hate-crime unit, as well as officers who speak multiple languages ​​to make sure they can hear and read any messages that are disseminated at the protests. Police also plan to install more security cameras around the demonstration areas, for the purpose of supporting any investigations that may be required after the events, I added.

“What we will not tolerate is civil disobedience, violence or hate behavior that crosses a line into criminality,” Ramer said, warning anyone who behaves unlawfully at these rallies to “expect to be arrested.”

Meanwhile, the nation’s capital is also preparing for crowds this weekend. More than 800 RCMP officers have been approved to join Ottawa police ahead of the planned “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle convoy slated to arrive in the city.

Earlier this year Ottawa was the epicenter of massive protests as truck drivers and their supporters trekked from all over the country and occupied part of the city for several weeks. The demonstrations ended when police moved in and arrested some of the organizers.

For several days in February, a heavy police presence was deployed in parts of downtown Toronto as supporters of the Ottawa convoy rallied, in opposition to mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Chief Ramer said there’s no indication the weekend demonstrations could amount to anything as significant as those in February. Rather, police are taking precautionary measures as the summer months roll around and larger gatherings are to be expected.


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