Mayor tells Londoners to 'stand up against hate' as white supremacist plan rally
'I think it's awful that racism and hate will be expressed in our community'
Mayor Matt Brown issued an emergency motion at council Tuesday calling on Londoners to stand against all forms of racism, bigotry and hatred as several nationalist groups prepare to rally outside city hall later in the week.
Calling it a confirmation that racism exists in the city, Brown said the planned rally organized by an anti-Islamic group and supported by at least one white supremacist organization is an eye-opener.
"I think it's awful that in 2017, racism and hate will be expressed in our community," Brown said by telephone prior to taking his motion into the council chambers.
Coun. Harold Usher supported the motion, along with all other members of council.
"There's absolutely no place for this kind of discrimination and hatred, not on our land, not on our property, not in my heart," he said.
Coun. Tanya Park introduced an additional motion - that unanimously passed - set to ban hate groups from holding rallies on city-owned property.
"It's an inhumane thing that some people want to portray our community like this," she said.
Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) has issued calls on social media for a rally Saturday, prompting human rights and anti-violence groups to prepare for a counter protest.
Both said the intention is to keep the rallies peaceful, with the mayor reiterating calls for non-violence.
Coun. Mo Salih, who identifies as a Muslim, had a clear message to hate groups:
"To the people who don't like me, I say you're free to hate my faith, colour, that I'm an immigrant, the fact that I exist - but I'm not going anywhere."
Similar protest turns violent
A demonstration organized by a far-right group in Quebec City turned violent Sunday with politicians in that province calling the show of anti-immigration sentiment "disgusting."
While London's mayor is calling on residents to oppose the PEGIDA rally, he initially said it would be inappropriate for him to attend the counter-protest.
"It was something that I wouldn't attend with the idea that I wouldn't want to give something like this any more oxygen than it required," he said.
After his motion passed on Tuesday, Brown changed his mind.
He said he was impressed by the online reaction of people who vouched to attend the counter-protest.
"I decided that it was the appropriate place to be," the mayor said. "That we need to stand together and communicate very clearly that hate and racism really has no place in London."
A city official said PEGIDA has not requested a permit to protest, meaning its members will be required to stay off the roads and city property.