Officials say three arrests have been made after demonstrators defaced statues in downtown Toronto on Saturday during a rally calling for the defunding of police.
Black Lives Matter protesters poured pink paint on the statues of Sir John A. MacDonald and King Edward VII at Queen’s Park. A statue of Egerton Ryerson — who is believed to have assisted in developing Canada’s residential school system — was also defaced at Ryerson University.
“Statues … were artistically disrupted with messages that highlighted their role in perpetuating colonialism and anti-Black violence,” a statement from Black Lives Matter Toronto said.
“Who are the police protecting by detaining people who have done no harm?” said Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto.
“Why are these statues of slaveholders and genocide actors more important than our lives?”
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The protest comes after scores of people called on the Toronto Police Services Board over the past week to defund the police.
Black Lives Matter says too much funding is directed to police services and called on the government to redirect some of those funds to social services.
Anti-racism protests and calls to defund police services have spread throughout the world since the death of George Floyd in May, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest.
Locally, several events have also sparked calls for change, including the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. The 29-year-old Black woman died on May 27 after falling from her balcony during an interaction with police after a call for mental health assistance.
— With files from The Canadian Press