Despite “Scuffles,” Tamil Protest Continues
The protest by Toronto’s Tamil community in front of the U.S. consulate on University Avenue continued last night and throughout today, with the street remaining closed between Dundas Street West and Queen Street West. And although heavy rain had thinned the crowd yesterday morning to only a hundred or so protesters, the Toronto Star reports that their numbers had swelled back up to a thousand by noon today.
While a Toronto Police Service news release early this morning described the ongoing demonstration as “peaceful”—as it appears in the above photos from last night—both the Toronto Sun and CityNews reported on what they termed “scuffles” yesterday between protesters and police. The outlets provided differing accounts of what sparked the incident. According to the Sun, several demonstrators were injured after officers attempted to re-clear the southbound lane of University Avenue. The account from CityNews holds an added layer of internal drama, claiming that police “moved in in great numbers” after confrontations began within a group of Tamils.
This morning’s Toronto Police Service news release made no mention of altercations—either among protesters or between Tamils and police. However, some demonstrators were vocal in their denunciation of officers. One protester named Luxmy told CityNews, “This is not democracy in this country … And a mad police touches me—it’s illegal!” Meanwhile, Prasath Rajendram told the Sun his account of the police service’s attempt to relocate demonstrators to the east side of University Avenue: “They wanted us to move back and onto the sidewalk. We’ve done that many times and we never get any respect from the government. We said, ‘No, this is a free country.’ And that’s when they hit him [his friend] on the head [with a baton].”
Despite these tensions, the Tamil community seems set to keep up its vigil for an end to the conflict in Sri Lanka, with police ready to let them continue their protest—so long as the relative calm continues.
Photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.