July 2, 2019 12:34 pm
Updated: July 3, 2019 12:51 am

Indigenous woman handcuffed during ‘peaceful’ protest at Queen’s Park

WATCH ABOVE: A Canada Day demonstration at Queen's Park aimed at calling attention to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls led to one protestor being placed in handcuffs. But as Jamie Mauracher reports, witnesses say special constables used “excessive” force.

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A demonstration aimed at calling attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls led to one protester being placed in handcuffs in Toronto on Monday.

In an online video, protester Keitha Keeshig Tobias can be seen wearing a sign and standing in front of a statue of John A. Macdonald at Queen’s Park on Canada Day in an effort to bring attention to violence against Indigenous women.

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On top of the statue is a red dress, a symbol meant to memorialize missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Vicky Sanderson was walking by Queen’s Park when she noticed the dress and stopped.

“I thought to myself, ‘This is a symbol I should probably pay attention to on Canada Day,’” she told Global News.

READ MORE: Indigenous drummers say they faced racist confrontation in Toronto park

According to Sanderson, there was a man sitting on the statue holding the dress while Keeshig Tobias was taping two small posters to the base of the statue.

Suddenly, Sanderson says, a group of Queen’s Park security officials ran over.

Facebook / Keitha Keeshig-Tobias

“The whole thing was a bit excessive,” Sanderson said, alleging that the security guards started grabbing at Keeshig Tobias before placing her in handcuffs.

“It was a peaceful protest,” she told Global News.

In another online video by Nanook Gordon Fareal, a witness can be heard yelling “shame” at members of Queen’s Park security while protesters ask why Keeshig Tobias was handcuffed.

“Why don’t you take this monument down? This is a crime,” a woman can be heard saying, referring to the statue of Macdonald.

“Our people are just trying to make awareness about the atrocities our people are going through,” the protester yelled.

“She was just trying to put up a poster with tape,” Fareal calls out. “F— John A. Macdonald.”

READ MORE: Pride Toronto apologizes for land acknowledgment that omitted Indigenous communities

According to witnesses, the security officials appeared to justify their actions as a tactic to get the male protester down from the statue.

“They kept saying they would take the cuffs off if I got the man to come down,” Keeshig Tobias explained on Facebook.

In Fareal’s video, security officials can be seen removing the handcuffs from Keeshig Tobias after a few minutes.

“Leave our people alone, let them have their say,” a protester yells in the same video.

Global News has reached out to Queen’s Park security, which has not yet commented on the incident.

While Toronto police initially said they weren’t called to the scene, they later clarified and confirmed they were already on site and an arrest was made by special constables for breach of the peace, which is a process used by officers to deescalate tense situations.

While Toronto police initially said they weren’t called to the scene, they later clarified and confirmed they were already on site and an arrest was made by special constables for breach of the peace, which is a process used by officers to deescalate tense situations.

However, no one was charged or fined.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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