More protests against anti-black racism expected across Canada today

Anti-racism demonstrators are expected to gather across Canada today to protest police violence against black people.

The rallies are the latest in a series of protests following the release of a video showing a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, for nearly nine minutes.

Floyd fell still and died, the officer’s knee still on him.

Events are planned today in several Ontario cities including Toronto and Niagara Falls, where the Whirlpool Bridge to the United States will close later today to all but essential traffic so demonstrators can protest.

Meanwhile, organizers of a Montreal event scheduled for Sunday told police today they were rescinding an invitation to police chief Sylvain Caron to attend after some groups opposed his presence.

Montreal police say in a statement posted to social media they respect the organizers’ decision and it doesn’t change commitments the force has made to review measures when it comes to street checks.

In Toronto, a pair of rallies on Saturday will be the third such events over the course of a week.

Another event on Friday drew thousands of demonstrators, who marched peacefully to city hall chanting “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”

The city’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, noted Friday that there are risks associated with demonstrating during the COVID-19 pandemic, and encouraged participants to take extra precautions.

She said protesters should make sure they maintain a two-metre physical distance with one another, and wear a mask or other face coverings if that’s not possible.

De Villa also said protesters should carry signs and drums rather than shouting to minimize droplets in the air that could potentially spread the virus.

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