The province’s police watchdog is investigating the arrests of two men during a rally in Toronto’s Little Jamaica neighbourhood on Saturday.
On Saturday evening, police said people had gathered in the Eglinton Avenue West and Oakland Avenue area for a planned, peaceful protest to voice their concerns about the ongoing construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and its impact on local businesses in the neighbourhood.
Shortly before 8 p.m., police said a man – unrelated to the rally – jumped on to a vehicle. A taser was reportedly used on the man. A second man also became involved in the scuffle and may have been tasered as well.
Police said an unspecified number of people in the crowd “became hostile” and “swarmed” officers, requiring additional units to be called to the area to assist with controlling the crowd. Several officers were injured with four needing to be treated in hospital. They were all later released.
Two men were arrested and are facing charges of mischief and assault on police.
In a statement released late Sunday evening, the Special Investigations Units (SIU) confirmed they are looking at the case and said a 33-year-old man had been arrested and taken to the hospital Saturday evening.
“The unit is awaiting confirmation on the nature of the man’s injuries,” the SIU said.
Rally organizers dispute police version of events
One of the groups that helped organize the rally said on Sunday that they dispute the police’s version of events and that the altercation is an example of why the police should be defunded in Toronto.
“RREW would like to take this moment to further push for the reallocation of funds that largely go to police salaries, to community services, like shelters and harm reduction centres that emphasize safety for all,” said Reclaim, Rebuild, Eglinton West (RREW) in a statement on their Instagram page. “Protecting Little Jamaica means defunding the police and reinvesting in Eglinton West.”
Yesterday, Toronto Police Service officers were in the area of Eglinton Avenue West and Oakwood Avenue while a rally was taking place. An interaction ensued between officers and a man. The SIU is investigating. https://t.co/RgoY6JzGhQ
— SIU (@SIUOntario) August 31, 2020
The SIU is called in where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault involving police and members of the public.