Toronto Police have charged a man with assault after a heated exchange between a group protesting U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and a crowd of other activists in front of Toronto City Hall on Saturday.
The incident occurred Saturday as the groups clashed outside city hall. Video of the scuffle shows police officers breaking up a quarrel and arresting a man in a black hooded jacket.
Hundreds of peaceful protesters braved the rain and cold at an anti-Trump gathering at Nathan Phillips Square before marching through downtown streets towards Trump International Hotel and Tower.
Clutching umbrellas and waving signs, their message was one of defiance towards the racism and sexism they say surfaced during the 18-month presidential campaign.
Protesters broke into an impromptu rendition of “O Canada” in front of the Trump-branded high-rise. A same-sex couple was spotted snapping wedding photos with the group, which included a number of Americans concerned about the changing political climate south of the border.
“I want to become Canadian because I feel like Canada represents my values more than the U.S. does right now,” Leah Long, a U.S. university professor, told CTV Toronto. “I’m a little scared of the social unrest and worsening tensions between minority Americans.”
Signs reading “Trump scares me more than 9/11 did” and “Build a wall around Trump” suggest many in Canada have not accepted the New York real estate mogul’s surprise victory more than 10 days after the election.
“I believe that our Canadian values are antithetical to what Donald Trump stands for,” said Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo. “We are standing for, I hope, inclusivity, anti-racism, anti-misogyny, and anti-climate change denial. All of which were evident in his campaign and are evident in his cabinet as he is picking them.”
A smaller number of Trump supporters were also in attendance, some wearing the now iconic red caps featuring the “Make American Great Again” slogan. One man held a sign featuring a photo of a smug-looking Trump with the message “Stay Salty” in front of city hall.
“I think it’s important as a part of democracy to go and state viewpoints that might be contradictory to what the general populace agrees with,” said one pro-Trump demonstrator. “It’s important to get differing ideas so that we can challenge the ones we currently have.”
The Toronto protest follows similar demonstrations in Canada and around the world. Hundreds of protesters snaked their way through downtown Vancouver on Thursday, pumping their fists in the air and chanting “love trumps hate.”
The backlash against Trump’s claim to the White House comes as some observers say there has been an uptick in hate crimes that may be inspired by his racially-charged rhetoric during the campaign. Trump has suggest the U.S. should close its borders to Muslims and build a wall to keep out illegal Mexican immigrants, whom he has referred to as “rapists”
Anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant graffiti has surfaced in Ottawa and Toronto following Trump’s election win. Ottawa Police said they caught a man in the act of defacing a Jewish community centre on Saturday.
Commuters on a Toronto streetcar filmed a man yelling racial slurs on Monday, telling one passenger to “Go back to your own country.” He yelled “go Trump” as he exited the streetcar, according to a witness.