Black Lives Matter protesters demand answers as group moves to Toronto police HQ
Tempers flare as police officers force protesters to put out fire amid rally
Black Lives Matter activists and police officers clashed outside Toronto police headquarters on Monday night, but the demonstrators say they're not going anywhere until their voices are heard.
The demonstrators want police to release the name of the officer who fatally shot Andrew Loku, a 45-year-old father of five, last July. Ontario's Special Investigations Unit cleared the officer who shot Loku of any wrongdoing last week, saying the officer had legitimate reason to fear Loku, who was wielding a hammer at the time.
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On Monday evening, police said they were removing tents and a fire from outside of their headquarters due to safety concerns, but added demonstrators were permitted to protest peacefully.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/TPS52Div">@TPS52Div</a> officers <a href="https://twitter.com/TorontoPolice">@TorontoPolice</a> HQ for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BLMTOtentcity?src=hash">#BLMTOtentcity</a>. Removal of tents & fire required for safety. Peaceful protests may continue ^CdK—@TPSOperations
However, the group claimed on Twitter that police attacked the protesters, adding some organizers were "punched, hit and physically assaulted."
The <a href="https://twitter.com/TorontoPolice">@TorontoPolice</a> have attacked protestors. Repeat, the Police have attacked protestors. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BLMTOtentcity?src=hash">#BLMTOtentcity</a>—@BLM_TO
The group's leaders plan to camp out at police headquarters until their demands are met.
Black Lives Matter issued a series of demands to police in the wake of Loku's death and said the force must apologize to his family. Those demands were reissued during Monday's protest.
The protesters began demonstrations outside of Nathan Phillips Square on Monday as they sought to create a "tent city" before they say they were told to leave by Toronto police.
"We decided to move, we did not decide to stop." Alexandra Williams, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, told reporters Monday during a news conference.
"We're going to stay here until our community feels like we have been heard," said Hudson.
"When Andrew Loku was killed, Chief [Mark] Saunders, Mayor John Tory, they said we should wait for the SIU investigation. That we would get justice with the SIU investigation. And just like 95 per cent of the time that the SIU does an investigation against police brutality, they have again decided that we are undeserving of justice," Hudson said.
"We're not going to take this. Our community is not going to take this."
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash told CBC News Monday that Chief Saunders will not comment on the matter and officers have no plans to move the protesters from outside of police headquarters.
Anger over Afrofest
"We heard about Afrofest being reduced from two days to one day with an offensive note from a councillor saying that if we behave, we could maybe get our day back next time in a blatant form of anti-black racism," said Hudson.
"No other festival sees something like this."
Last Wednesday, Coun. Mary Margaret-McMahon said a meeting has been scheduled with city staff, the mayor and festival organizers to discuss the future of the event and how to get it in compliance with regulations.
With files from Makda Ghebreslassie