TORONTO: Demonstrators alleged the use of excessive force after police apprehended several individuals who participated in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Toronto over the weekend.

According to a statement released by the Toronto Police Service, officers were engaged in crowd management duties at the downtown protest when they took multiple people into custody.

The police statement comes amidst allegations of excessive use of force from some protesters with videos circulating online depicting tense confrontations between demonstrators and officers.

Tensions escalated during the protest when officers moved to seize a truck within the crowd, prompting what the police described as aggressive behaviour from some demonstrators towards them. One individual was charged with stunt driving for purportedly operating the truck with passengers in the cargo bed while it was in motion.

Furthermore, two women are facing charges of assaulting officers. One of them is accused of throwing horse manure at officers, while the other allegedly attempted to strike an officer with a flagpole.

In a press release issued on Sunday, the police stated that four additional men were detained for allegedly obstructing the arrests of one of the women. Three of these individuals were subsequently released unconditionally, while one was handed over to the Ontario Provincial Police due to an outstanding warrant unrelated to the protest.

The Palestinian Youth Movement, the group whose Toronto chapter has organised several protests in the city since October 7, took to Instagram, alleging that the police used “brutal tactics” and “violently” arrested six individuals during the event.

The group says the march had been proceeding peacefully through downtown for several hours before encountering police intervention. Organisers claimed that several individuals sustained injuries when the police cordoned off protesters in a particular area and then advanced on foot and horseback. Meanwhile, police said it had not received any reports of injuries following Saturday’s demonstrations.

The protest was held to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the lifting of the blockade in Gaza.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2024

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