There are more than a dozen large-scale events, including several demonstrations that are planned for this weekend.
Speaking at a news conference at police headquarters on April 29, Chief James Ramer said the Service always seeks to ensure public safety while working to limit disruptions in the city.
“While you are encouraged to go about your business, we ask for your patience and we will work to safely manage large volumes of cars and people in the city,” he said.
On Sunday, May 1, during the morning and early afternoon, there are several large closures, including for the Toronto Marathon (See Closures here) and Ontario Police Memorial (Queen’s Park Crescent closed in both directions from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
“While the Toronto Police will always support peaceful demonstration, I want to be very clear that we will not tolerate any intimidation, harassment or hate-motivated behavior aimed at specific communities.”
Ramer said he had concerns brought to his attention in relation to the Al-Quds event on Saturday, April 30.
“Some have expressed concern about the potential for hate speech and confrontation between participants and those who are opposed to this event,” said Ramer. “We have received several complaints that hateful speech has been overheard at recent events. I think we can all agree that there is no place for this. I want to reassure those that have these concerns that, like all demonstrations, the Toronto Police Service will be visibly present and actively monitoring these events.”
The Service will present its annual Hate Crime report to the Toronto Police Services Board on Monday.
“It shows an increase in hate motivated occurrences in our city,” said Ramer. “While we know some of this increase in reporting is due to increased awareness, we also know that these crimes are sadly becoming more common, not only in our city but across the globe and we are committed to investigating every single one we are aware of.”
Ramer reiterated that the Service respects the charter rights of people and will always facilitate lawful and peaceful protests.
“What we will not tolerate is civil disobedience, violence or hateful behavior that crosses the line into criminality,” he said. “Anyone who engages in such behavior should expect to be arrested.”
In addition to frontline officers, members from the dedicated Hate Crimes Unit will be on the ground gathering evidence to investigate suspected hate crime, hate speech or signage.
The Chief said the Service will also embed officers who speak different languages so they can record first-hand what is said.
“We will also be adding more cameras in that area for the purpose of supporting any investigations that may be required after the event,” he added. “We recognize that the Al-Quds event has traditionally led to confrontation between groups with very divergent views. The role of the Toronto Police Service is to maintain the peace.”