Black Lives Matter solidarity march set for Wednesday in Kitchener
KITCHENER -- A peaceful demonstration against racism and police brutality is planned for later this week in Kitchener.
The "KW Solidarity March for Black Lives Matter" will take place in Victoria Park beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
“This is a peaceful march and protest to raise awareness of the lives lost in violence, to show our solidarity for the families and communities most impacted, to express that as the KW community WE are NOT just ‘not racist’- WE are active ANTI-RACISTS,” the group's Facebook event page reads in part.
This is one of the many protests sparked in the aftermath of the killing of an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis last week.
George Floyd died after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck while Floyd repeatedly complained that he could not breathe.
“We will march for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet & all those before who's names we know and those names we do not know of,” the page reads in part.
Organizers also make note of a number of other high profile, police-involved deaths in both Canada and the United States.
This includes the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto on Tuesday, which is currently being probed by the province's police watchdog.
The 29-year-old fell from the balcony of a 24th-floor Toronto apartment while police were in the home.
Waterloo Regional Police Service Chief Bryan Larkin spoke in a video statement on behalf of the service.
He says that the events of the past several days have left him "saddened," "disturbed" and "angry."
"We are not perfect. There is work to be done within our own police service and we are committed to providing the tools and training and education necessary to ensure our officers can build and maintain your trust," he says in the video.
In an interview with CTV on Monday afternoon, Larkin went on to say that the police service would be "standing alongside" demonstrators on Wednesday.
"We're not naive to think that, within our organization and within policing, that systemic barriers and discrimination do not exist," he said.
"So it's important also that we stand united with our community to send a strong message that any form of racism, any form of hatred is simply unacceptable and we must do better."
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of Wednesday's march say that, in order to participate, demonstrators will be required to wear masks, and they’re asking anyone that is sick to stay home and watch the Facebook live stream.
People are also being asked to keep two metres from each other throughout the march and to march in groups of five or less, a fact that was not lost on Larkin.
"We also recognize that this exceeds the current gathering of more than five people but we're living in some challenging times," Larkin said Monday.
"And I believe that people feel that they need to come out, united, to stand out and speak out against racism, and as a police service we'll ensure that we support the event planners."
He also says he has been "very impressed" by the public health measures that organizers have taken so far, and says the service will work with the city to ensure that public health measures are met.
Anyone interested in attending the march is being asked to bring their own masks, sanitizer, and signs.
In Guelph, a peaceful protest is also scheduled for Saturday.
That protest will take place at Guelph City Hall from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Facebook event page echoes the same public health requirements as the Kitchener demonstration, saying that masks are mandatory.
Organizers ask that people stay two metres apart and not march in groups of more than five.