vancouver protest

Second day of anti-racism protests in Vancouver draws thousands

Vancouver was the site of a second major round of protests against police impunity and anti-Black racism on Sunday, as residents of cities across the country and the continent continue to rally in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and countless others in incidents involving authorities.

Thousands in the west coast city, which also had a smaller march for the cause on Saturday, took to the streets, meeting in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery at 5 p.m. local time Sunday evening. Official estimates say there were upwards of 3,500 present.

The demonstration was impressively non-violent, unlike the one that took place in Montreal on the same day, with no tear gas, destruction, or arrests.

The event was organized by local youth leader Jacob Callender-Prasad, who had asked attendees to keep things peaceful in a social media post leading up to the event.

"I can't stress this enough: no rioting tomorrow. We do not need to riot in Vancouver, we do not need to destroy our community, that's not needed here," he said in a video posted by Black Vancouver on Saturday. "If you see anyone tomorrow who is trying to start a riot, please stop them from doing so."

And, it seemed that everyone on the scene heeded Callender-Prasad's words.

The city's Black Lives Matter chapter was notably absent from the rally due to COVID-19 concerns.

"We do not feel that we can ensure the safety of our community in public protest at this time," the chapter said in a Facebook post.

"Furthermore, the family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet has asked that no protest be held in their daughter's name. We will respect that. Right now, our priority and concern is keeping Black people safe and promoting some rest."

More gatherings — which have so far seemed to include health and safety measures like face masks, hand sanitizer distribution and some social distancing amid the pandemic — are planned for Canadian cities such as Montreal this upcoming weekend.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his press conference today, "we can't pretend that racism doesn’t exist here" north of the border as hundreds of riots in the U.S. continue to take place.

"Anti-Black racism is real, unconscious bias is real, systemic discrimination is real, and they happen here in Canada," he said, giving his support to those demonstrating nationwide.

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