Toronto police use pepper spray on protesters
Posted On July 23, 2021
Toronto police are using pepper spray to control a large number of protesters who were gathered in the city’s east end on Sunday to voice their displeasure at the Canadian-led bombing of a mosque in Quebec.
The force deployed the spray on a number of people, including two women, and two men who were trying to protect a man who was pinned against a fence.
The Canadian government says the bomb was part of an anti-terrorism operation.
About 100 police were deployed to the area Sunday morning to clear protesters.
A spokesperson for Mayor John Tory said the force was using pepper-spray to clear the area around a building.
About 15 people were arrested and taken to hospitals for treatment, including one woman who was treated for pepper-induced eye irritation.
The Toronto Star reported that police said the spray was used “to protect bystanders” in an attempt to protect the man who had been pinned against the fence.
Tory said the Toronto Police Service was reviewing the incident to determine if the use of the pepper spray was legal.
The protest began at about 5 a.m. and the demonstrators chanted “Canada is safe!” before dispersing.
The Toronto Star said protesters gathered outside a mosque and set fire to a banner.
The group then threw bottles and flares at police officers, causing them to fire pepper spray at the group, the paper reported.
Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Star.
Meanwhile, Toronto police said officers used pepper spray “to deter” a crowd of about 200 people at the intersection of Finch and Adelaide streets on Sunday.
“This is a demonstration of our commitment to peaceful protest,” police said in a news release.
“We are not using pepper or any other type of weapon against anyone.
We have used pepper in the past and it has proven effective in preventing the crowd from causing problems for police.”
The police force is also investigating whether the spray should be banned.
On Friday, police used pepper gas to disperse protesters near the site of a bombing in Quebec City, killing five people.
In that case, the use was also criticised by the country’s main opposition party, which said the use violated the rights of demonstrators.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who took office in March, signed a sweeping anti-terror bill that allows police to use force against demonstrators if they cause a “direct threat” to the public.
About 40 per cent of Canada’s population of roughly 13 million live in urban areas.