Two people were injured after an altercation between anti-LGBTQ protesters and members of the LGBTQ community broke out in the city’s Village neighbourhood Tuesday.
Toronto police said they responded to an assault call at around 5:23 p.m. in the area of Church and Wellesley streets.
Police spokesperson Katrina Arrogante told Global News Wednesday the incident began with a man making derogatory comments in the area. Initially, it was about 20 people involved, but then a crowd gathered and led to an altercation.
Arrogante said one person was injured but refused medical treatment, while another was transported to hospital with minor injuries.
The 519, a Toronto community centre for those in the LGBTQ2 community, stated the details of the incident on their Facebook page.
According to the centre, the altercation occurred at the northwest corner of the intersection and began almost an hour before police arrived on scene.
It said two people came with microphones and amplifiers to “preach about the sins of queer and trans people,” which led to a bigger crowd of people asking them to leave. People were telling the individuals that their “messages of hate” were not welcomed in their community.
The post said that eventually, the fight escalated to those from the community pushing away the hate pamphlets and attempting to unplug the microphone, while the protester “grabbed at those trying to intervene, pushed them and chased them.”
The 519 said the brawl left someone “bloody” and it took another hour after police’s arrival for the individuals involved to leave the scene.
A video posted on Instagram shows the anti-LGBTQ2 pamphlets scattered on the ground as the crowd angrily asks the two protesters to leave the area. The man with the microphone can be seen aggressively yelling back at members of the community while breaking apart his own signs.
Jaymie Sampa, manager of program and partnership development at The 519, said it was “very clear” the individual causing commotion was wearing a body camera and came into the community, calling people out to “incite a violent response.”
Sampa said that the organization is making themselves available to the community, and are being responsive to the trauma that members in the community might be feeling when these types of incidents occur.
The organization will be liaising with local businesses and the neighbourhood association to co-ordinate a better response to situations such as these.
Police from 51 Division have opened an investigation into the incident and are asking anyone with further information or footage to contact them.