Toronto police warn of delays downtown this weekend ahead of protests

·2 min read
Toronto police Chief James Ramer is warning people they may experience slowdowns and delays in the downtown core over the weekend, with over a dozen demonstrations planned in different areas. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Toronto police Chief James Ramer is warning people they may experience slowdowns and delays in the downtown core over the weekend, with over a dozen demonstrations planned in different areas. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

It will be a "busy weekend" of protests, demonstrations and celebrations in downtown Toronto, police say.

At a news conference Friday morning, Toronto police Chief James Ramer said the public will notice an increased police presence downtown around demonstration areas, with both rolling and static road closures being used to redirect people and traffic.

No specific closures or protest areas were announced. Ramer said people are encouraged to go about their business, but he also asked for patience as officers try to safely manage large volumes of cars and people.

"While the Toronto Police Service will always support peaceful demonstration, I want to be very clear that we will not tolerate any intimidation, harassment or hate-motivated behaviour aimed at specific communities," he said.

Police say they are expecting 14 different demonstrations, some small and some with participation numbering in the hundreds.

"We'll have to see how the weekend plays out," Ramer said.

Ramer also said that police are not expecting protests linked to the "Rolling Thunder" demonstration happening in Ottawa this weekend, which has ties to people who took part in the weeks-long occupation of that city during the "Freedom Convoy" earlier this year.

However, he said, investigators are in communication with other police forces about those issues, and the situation is "always being monitored."

In a statement Friday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he hopes any demonstrations held over the weekend will be peaceful.

"I support the Charter and its guarantees of the right to free speech and free assembly. However, as a city, we cannot accept any instances of discrimination, hate speech or incitement to violence that takes place at the expense of other people's safety," Tory said.

"I have repeatedly condemned any and all forms of hate speech and I have been clear that I cannot accept hatred or violence against any group of people, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation or national origin."

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