More than 200 placard-carrying protesters walked a circuitous route along sidewalks and streets from City Hall in Toronto to Queen’s Park and back on Saturday to the rhythms of Caribbean music from a sound truck a la Caribana.
The protest demonstration was organized by Atlantic Mas’ bandleader Akil Heywood who delivered a “Black Lives Matter” message along with soca, calypso and reggae.
“The music is an important part of the protest,” Heywood said before the start of the parade.” Soca, Calypso, and Reggae, have elements of social and political resistance embedded in the lyrics … that music has to be with us today.”
The music and high spirits of the marchers along with police wearing summer shorts and riding bikes alongside the protesters, gave the event a much different vibe than other demonstrations this summer.
And motorists in downtown traffic honked their horns and waved in support of the protesters
Marchers stopped three times en route to listen to speakers – first outside the United States Consulate, then at police headquarters and finally outside the Ontario Legislature where protestors chanted “Black Lives Matter.”
Speakers touched on many of the hot buttons of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Black people have endured oppression, violence, and ultimately death, as a result of anti-black racism for centuries. There is a worldwide outcry demanding change and justice for the innocent lives lost,” said Heywood in a message sent to The Caribbean Camera.
Atlantic Mas’ handed out a lengthy manifesto to the media,
- The need for the city and school boards to adopt Anti-
- Accountability Within all GTA Police
- Development of an Anti-Racism Committee
- Implementation of Afrocentric Courts in Canada
- Credit Programs to help build wealth within the
Joining Atlantic Mas’ in the demonstration were members of the Remember the 400 Association which was formed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of Africans to the shores of North American in August 1619.
The association, organized by Canadian actor Shadrock Porter, has launched an online petition calling on the Canadian government to declare the month of August “Freedom Month in recognition of the many significant historical events concerning slavery that have taken place in Canada.”