Three protesters have been released from custody following anti-racism demonstrations this weekend that saw three downtown Toronto statues splashed in paint.
“If you are still in favour of these racist monuments, maybe you need to look at the other racist monument, yourself,” said Syrus Marcus Ware, a member of Black Lives Matter Toronto, which organized the action.
The Saturday rally defaced three statues with pink paint, including the monument to Egerton Ryerson at Ryerson University. At Queen’s Park, the tributes to John A. MacDonald and King Edward VII were defaced.
Police arrested one man and two women. All face multiple charges including mischief.
“We have seen less action when we die,” said Rodney Diverlus, co-founder of the group’s Toronto chapter.
Saron Gebresellassi, a lawyer for one of the accused, said the demonstrators were denied in-person access to counsel for much of the day. She said one was in need of medication.
“I was there on standby for over 12 hours and was denied access to counsel all throughout,” she said. “I got two phone calls.”
On Twitter, Lawrence Gridin, a Toronto criminal lawyer, commented that the detention conditions were not unusual.
“I can count on zero hands the number of times I’ve been granted physical access to a client under arrest,” he tweeted. “Showing up at the police station is pointless.”
In a series of posts on Twitter Saturday afternoon and evening, Toronto Police Service refuted the allegations made by protesters. The service said the arrested individuals had access to counsel, the required medication was sourced through family and the demonstrators declined to sign release forms to leave custody.
He continued, “It is important in these critical moments that the truth be told by all sides.”
Jason Kucherawy, a tour guide and the vice-president of Canadian Tour Guide Association of Toronto, said while he would not personally vandalize statues, he is sympathetic to the cause.
“I’d like to see not every statue taken down, but if there are enough people that really feel strongly that a certain statue should not be in public anymore, who am I to argue with that?” he said.
Black Lives Matter Toronto calls for all charges against the three who were arrested to be dropped.
The group and police confirm the man and two women have been released.