Toronto (April 29, 2022) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) commends the commitment to fight hate speech by the Chief of Toronto Police Services, James Ramer, who told journalists this morning the TPS would be monitoring Saturday’s Al-Quds Day rally for hate-motivated criminal behaviour. To that end, Chief Ramer said that while fully respecting the right to free speech, he would be deploying officers from TPS’s Hate Crime Unit and video cameras to gather evidence to investigate any suspected hate crimes or hate speech or signage at Saturday’s “rally”.
FSWC has long been calling for Toronto police and political leaders to address the growing scourge of antisemitic rhetoric and incitement to violence voiced at local protests that has crossed the line into hate speech.
In particular, the annual Al-Quds Day anti-Israel hate-fest in Toronto in recent years has often been the scene of vile antisemitic rhetoric and incitement to violence. Similar behaviour was also in evidence at an anti-Israel protest downtown last weekend.
“In recent days, I have had concerns brought to my attention in relation to the Al-Quds event planned for Saturday afternoon in the downtown core,” said Toronto Police Chief, James Ramer. “…In addition to a visible frontline officer presence, we will also have officers from our dedicated Hate Crime Unit on the ground, to be able to immediately gather evidence to investigate any suspected hate crimes, or hate speech, or signage.”
Reaffirming the chief’s comment, Mayor Tory said in a statement, “The Chief has indicated that hateful behaviour that crosses the line into criminality will not be tolerated, and he has my full support in this regard….as a city, we cannot accept any instances of discrimination, hate speech or incitement to violence that takes place at the expense of other people’s safety. I have repeatedly condemned any and all forms of hate speech and I have been clear that I cannot accept hatred or violence against any group of people, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation or national origin.”
“It's imperative to see the top leadership of our city, Mayor John Tory and Toronto Police Chief James Ramer, making a commitment to hold those who bring hate and incitement to our streets, accountable for their actions,” said Michael Levitt, President and CEO of FSWC. “We all want a city where peace thrives, a city where no community feels under attack. We know it’s essential for the police to be vigilant against any and all forms of hate and we commend their commitment to ensuring hate crimes and hate speech will not go unpunished in Toronto.”