By MITCHELL SHORE
— TORONTO — On Sat., June 22, members of Socialist Action (Canada) joined union members, feminists, LGBTQI+ activists, anarchists, and others at the “Celebrate Pride—Fight Fascism” rally near Toronto City Hall. We were there to protest against the anti-immigrant group PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West), the Canada Yellow Vests, the Sons of Odin, the Northern Guard and other white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who were holding a rally to oppose Pride Weekend, most notably the Dyke March on that day.
Socialist Action and some 200 allies gathered peacefully on both the southeast and northeast corners of Armory Street and University Ave. About 20 fascists were protected behind police metal barricades on the northeast corner, where they attempted to disseminate their message of hate and violence.
Unfortunately, our peaceful protest against the fascists quickly shifted when the cops tried to move anti-fascist protesters from the northeast corner to the southeast corner of Armoury and University. The cops began by slowly pushing us across the road, but not without encountering some resistance. We tried to peacefully hold our ground on the public sidewalk. Rather then engage in dialogue, police roughly pushed and shoved us.
Some cops used their batons to forcefully propel the crowd across the road. The police actions quickly became violent, with a number of protesters getting into scuffles with the cops for not moving to the sidewalk quickly enough.
During the melee, the Socialist Action “Smash Racism: No Platform for Fascists” banner was violently seized from the hands of two leading members of our organization. Simultaneously, a Fightback comrade was choked and punched by a cop, and another person was violently put into a headlock and thrown to the ground.
Soon after the cops had successfully moved the counter-demonstrators across the road, they penned us behind barricades, and a row of cops ensured that the two groups remained separate. This is another despicable example of the police acting as the fascists’ personal body guards.
This follows similar events in Vancouver and Hamilton, where alt-right groups attacked Pride events, and were unchallenged by the police. At the Hamilton event, LGBTQI+ youth and elderly people were brutally assaulted while the cops watched. It was only when the community responded in self-defence that the fascists were repelled.
Despite the efforts of the cops, we maintained a strong presence and let the fascists know that they are not welcome in our city, or anywhere else for that matter. And try as the cops may to intimidate, Socialist Action and allies will never back down in the face of racism and hatred.