Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw has issued a public apology and ordered a comprehensive review following a controversial and brief incident involving an officer during a pro-Palestinian demonstration on the Avenue Road bridge in north Toronto this past weekend.
In a statement released last night, Chief Demkiw expressed regret for the actions of one of his officers, seen in a video delivering Tim Horton’s coffee and donuts to a demonstrator. The chief emphasized the need for a thorough investigation to ensure effective operational planning and responses.
“Questions have been raised regarding one particular interaction between officers and a person on the Avenue Road bridge during an hours-long demonstration,” said Chief Demkiw. “Whatever the intent, the impact has been to cause concern and confusion, and for that, I am sorry.”
The incident occurred around 1:15 p.m. on Saturday when police announced the closure of the Avenue Road bridge due to public safety concerns following the pro-Palestinian demonstration. The bridge, located in Toronto’s Jewish community, has been a focal point for various demonstrations over the last few months.
A video showing the coffee exchange was recorded to local journalist Caryma Sa’d, who later explained on X that it was a brief momentary interaction that only resulted after demonstrators were not allowed back on the overpass.
“An officer transported it barely a few feet. Later, police reopened the whole bridge. The Canadian news cycle is a vortex,” she wrote.
But that didn’t stop the incident from making headlines across the city, and many people using the brief encounter to criticize police, which has already had to deal with hundreds of demonstrations around the city.
According to Demkiw, there have been more than 300 demonstrations since Oct. 7, many at the Avenue Road location, a gateway to a predominantly Jewish community. A deli
“Deeply frustrated that protesters are ignoring police orders by continuing to hold dangerous protests on 401 overpassess and distracting drivers. I continue to urge (Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Sarkaria) for emergency measures to keep our highways safe. This harassment of the local community must stop,” wrote city councillor James Pasternak on X.
Liberal MP Marco Mendicino, a former Minister of Public Safety, called for law enforcement to enforce existing laws. “Good intentions aside, police serving coffee and food to protestors will just embolden more deliberate obstruction of traffic, undermine public safety, and add to local frustrations,” Mendicino stated.
Good intentions aside, police serving coffee and food to protestors will just embolden more deliberate obstruction of traffic, undermine public safety, and add to local frustrations. Laws exist to prevent this. They need to be enforced! pic.twitter.com/s7znCf3gt5
— Marco Mendicino (@marcomendicino) January 6, 2024
Chief Demkiw assured the public of the police’s commitment to maintaining safety and security, especially in targeted areas. “Our commitment to keeping our city’s Jewish community safe is unwavering. We are doing everything we can in the locations that have been targeted for demonstrations to uphold and enforce the law,” he emphasized.