OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian protesters chanted “Stand up to Trump!” to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he joined thousands at an anti-racism rally on Friday and took a knee alongside protesters.
Trudeau, wearing a black mask and surrounded by bodyguards, made a surprise appearance at the “No justice = No peace” rally in front of Parliament. His appearance came a day after police shot and killed an indigenous woman during a wellness check in eastern Canada.
Demonstrations were held in other Canadian cities on Friday, including Toronto, where hundreds walked downtown in protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while in police custody in Minnesota.
Trudeau three times took a knee alongside other protesters, a gesture used to protest against police brutality and the treatment of African-Americans by police. Afterward, several people thanked Trudeau for kneeling.
On Monday, police tear-gassed peaceful protesters outside the White House to make way for President Donald Trump to have his picture taken holding a Bible while standing in front of a church.
Asked to comment on Trump’s idea of using soldiers against protesters on Tuesday, the Liberal prime minister paused for more than 20 seconds before he said that Canadians were watching the United States with “horror and consternation.”
Trudeau did not speak at the rally Friday and left as the protesters began a march to the U.S. Embassy, near the Parliament building.
“What needs to happen is long-term change,” said Sisi Akhigbe, 24, who raised more than C$9,000 online to provide drinks and snacks for the protesters in Ottawa. “We’ve been treated unfairly and we’re tired.”
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; additional reporting by Kelsey Johnson; editing by Leslie Adler)