Anti-racism demonstrators are expected to gather at multiple sites across Canada on Saturday in protest of the death of George Floyd and systemic racism and police violence against Black people.
The protests began last week in Minneapolis, where Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died after a white officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest.
Three other police officers who were present during the incident have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
George Floyd protests: Trudeau discusses ongoing protests, why he didn’t mention Trump by name
Floyd’s death acted as a catalyst, igniting protests that have now spread across the U.S. and abroad, including into Canada.
On Friday, thousands of demonstrators marched in the streets of Toronto, chanting “I can’t breathe,” “No justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, protesters marched to Parliament Hill, where they were joined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
When the crowd went silent for the time Floyd was held down by the officer, Trudeau put one knee to the ground and bowed his head.
Speaking to reporters earlier on Friday, Trudeau called recent reports of police violence against Indigenous people in Canada “disturbing,” saying the cases need to be “investigated properly.”
Thousands gather in Ottawa for demonstration, Trudeau takes knee
“I think far too many Canadians feel fear and anxiety at the sight of law enforcement officers and authorities of various ways because we have continued to have systemic racism in this country, systemic discrimination that means Indigenous Canadians, racialized Canadians are vulnerable in these situations,” he said.
While Trudeau did not specify which reports he was speaking about, earlier this week, an RCMP officer in Nunavut was caught on camera hitting a 22-year-old Inuk man with the door of a moving truck, and a 26-year-old First Nations mother in New Brunswick was shot and killed by police.
“Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awaken to the fact that the discrimination that is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens is something that needs to end,” Trudeau said.
He said it is not a problem that can be solved overnight, but that the change needs to start immediately.
Vancouver Anti Racism Rally
Friday also saw protests elsewhere in Canada, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Regina.
The protests are scheduled to continue in Canada on Saturday and are expected to grow in size.
–With files from the Canadian Press
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