Heightened Police Repression against Palestinian Solidarity Protesters in Toronto

The following statement is issued by Samidoun Toronto. To get involved or find out more, email toronto@samidoun.net.

UPDATE, 17 February 2024: An organizer reached out to clarify that on one of the occasions of people being stopped by Toronto police, they were not even dropping a banner but simply wearing kuffiyehs.

24 January 2024

Since the commencement of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the Canadian state has made it abundantly clear that Palestinians, Muslims, Arabs, and all people who oppose so-called Israel’s Zionist occupation and imperialism are a threat to Canada’s own settler-colonial social order. Toronto Police Services (TPS) and other police agencies are, as the domestic enforcement arm of the state, at the forefront of repressing this threat through brutal violence, in line with their ongoing war on Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities in Tkaronto.

On October 7, TPS officers attempted to stop Palestinian solidarity protesters from flying flags and banners on the Roncesvalles bridge in Toronto for alleged “safety reasons”. Since then, at least 28 people have been arrested during demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinian people. We, as Samidoun Toronto, vehemently condemn the heightened police repression against Palestinian solidarity activists and the violent and cruel brutality that the TPS is shamelessly inflicting on Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and allied protesters.


Zionism and Canadian settler-colonial expansion have been historically and continuously intertwined. Since October 7, TPS have engaged in a particularly violent censorship and political suppression campaign against Palestinian solidarity dissenters.

On October 29, 2023, the TPS put out a public press release alleging that a man who was attacked by a Zionist committed a “hate-motivated assault”[1]. The press release, which has since been deleted, included a photograph of the man. It is unclear whether any arrests occurred.

On October 30, 2023, six protesters were arrested for trespassing while staging a sit-in at MP and Minister for Justice Arif Virani’s office in Toronto. Minister Virani had been quick to denounce Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, and had promised legislation designed to obstruct anti-Zionist speech. That same day, five demonstrators were arrested for trespassing[2] while protesting in front of INKAS Armored Vehicle manufacturing plant in North York, an action organized by World Beyond War. The Toronto-based manufacturing company continues to supply military equipment to the brutal Zionist entity.

On November 13, 2023, TPS arrested three Palestinian solidarity protesters who disrupted the Scotiabank Giller Prize gala in Toronto, jumping on the stage and holding up a sign that reads “Scotiabank Funds Genocide”. Scotiabank is the top foreign shareholder in Elbit Systems[3], an “Israeli” corporation that produces weapons for the genocidal Zionist occupation, including cluster munitions, a deadly weapon banned by more than 100 countries, including so-called Canada[4]. The protesters were charged with mischief and, bizarrely, allegedly using forged documents to disrupt the awards show.

On November 14, 2023, Palestinian solidarity activists allegedly wheatpasted posters onto the outside of an Indigo store store. One person was arrested on site and charged with alleged criminal mischief over $5500. The following week, on November 22, 2023, TPS conducted an aggressive raid on the homes of ten of the alleged protesters, breaking down doors and ransacking homes before arresting them. The alleged protesters faced the same alleged charge of mischief over $5500 and an additional charge of alleged conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. The police declared the alleged solidarity demonstration a “hate-motivated offence”. Indigo Books and Music founder Heather Reisman and her husband have financially supported the IOF amid the Zionist occupier’s genocidal onslaught in Gaza. In 2005, the couple established the HESEG foundation which, between 2021 and 2022, provided $12 million in financial aid to IOF soldiers. If convicted, the ten alleged protesters face a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

On November 16, 2023, TPS were called to investigate a Starbucks location in midtown Toronto that was postered in condemnation of the ongoing genocide by the Zionist entity in Gaza. Starbucks is currently the subject of a grassroots boycott, partially[5] because Starbucks is suing the Starbucks Workers United union for making a statement of solidarity with Palestine[6]. One person was arrested with a mischief charge[7].

On December 10, 2023, TPS were caught on camera violently arresting a protester during a Human Rights Day rally. The officer punched and slammed the protester to the ground, then pressed his knee into the protester’s neck.

On December 17, 2023, a Palestinian solidarity protest occurred near the Eaton Centre. Two Palestinian solidarity protesters who had entered the mall were arrested by TPS on several alleged charges[8]. The action occurred days after Zara published an insensitive campaign photoshoot depicting models standing with props of body bags and rubble, which Palestinian solidarity supporters interpreted as making light of the genocidal onslaught by the Zionist entity on Palestinians[9].

On December 23, 2023, a group of Palestinian solidarity protesters disrupted routine holiday shopping in the Cadillac Fairview Toronto Eaton Centre in order to draw attention to the ongoing genocide in Gaza[10]. TPS detained at least one protester, but it is unclear whether that person was charged.

On December 29, 2023, Cadillac Fairview Toronto Eaton Centre mall security with handcuffs assaulted Palestinian solidarity protesters and detained three people before TPS even arrived on the scene[11]. The three people were eventually released without legal charges.

On January 7, 2024, one person in Toronto was arrested on charges of public incitement of hatred for waving a flag for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Palestinian resistance organization that has existed since 1967, under the false pretense that he was waving a “terrorist flag”. TPS and Public Safety Canada have both labelled the PFLP a “terrorist entity” alongside other resistance organizations in the region; however, it is not illegal to carry a flag of a designated organization in Canada, and this is the TPS’ attempt to create widespread fear and intimidation.

On January 11, 2024, Palestinian solidarity protesters launched several awareness protests at several major highway bridges across the city. In a ridiculous and unprecedented move, TPS announced that they were prohibiting any demonstrations at the Avenue Road bridge over Highway 401. The TPS Police Chief threatened future protesters with arrests. This protest is one of a series of highway overpass protests throughout the Greater Toronto Area, where participants raise Palestinian flags and drop banners from the sidewalk calling for justice in Palestine. The goal of intimidating Palestinian solidarity voices into silence did not work, and two days later, there was a large demonstration and banner drop on that bridge. Police arrested three people at the demonstration. One man was charged with mischief, and two others charged with obstructing a police officer.

In a particularly absurd turn of events, the Toronto police chief made a public apology after a TPS officer was filmed handing coffee to a Palestinian solidarity protester. The protester had purchased the coffee, but the police initially barred the coffee from being delivered to the protester.

On January 22, 2024, a Palestinian solidarity protester was arrested on charges of alleged mischief regarding an alleged demonstration that took place on November 22, 2023[12]. A strange feature of this arrest was that the Hate Crimes Unit was involved, even though the arrestee was not charged with a hate crime. This seems to be in line with the TPS’ current narrative that they need additional funding to further suppress Palestinian solidarity demonstrations while smearing these anti-genocide demonstrations as “hate crimes”[13].

In all public statements, the TPS have unnecessarily and shamelessly name-doxxed all protesters that they arrested, despite no charges being made, in an attempt to intimidate and undermine the livelihoods and efforts of Palestinian solidarity supporters in so-called Toronto.


There is no legal basis for the criminalization of Palestinian solidarity organizing; in fact, the TPS appears to be attempting to create new laws through the targeting and arrests of protesters. Moreover, we know that legality in settler colonies like so-called Canada and “Israel” are not an accurate determiner of morality and justice. Laws in Canada continue to criminalize marginalized communities, while Zionist laws criminalize Palestinians for simply existing in their homeland. Palestinian solidarity organizers who disrupt business-as-usual and do violate laws in Canada to bring attention to the ongoing genocide in Palestine are lawfully, but unjustly, criminalized.

Canadian police units have a reliable history of leveraging hate-related charges and investigations against marginalised groups in order to protect their own interests of upholding settler-colonialism and imperialism. One particularly egregious case occurred in 2020 when the Halton Regional Police investigated the vandalism of a Waffen-SS Nazi Memorial in Oakville as a hate crime. “Hate crimes” such as this that are pursued by police forces in this country reveal the absurdity behind claims of antisemitism that are wielding against Palestinian solidarity activists struggling against settler-colonialism on this land and abroad. To claim that people protesting against a genocidal settler-colonial occupying regime are committing a “hate crime” or being “willfully antisemitic” when Nazi memorials remain across this country exposes the reality behind Canadian hate crime legislation and what it truly serves: settler-colonial order and capital..


Despite the high incidence of arrests, imprisonment with political charges in Ontario is very rare. This is because the police’s primary goal with our movements is not to send people to jail. Nevertheless, the TPS’ heightened police repression leads to other risks that we, as people organizing for the Palestinian cause, should be aware of and prepared for.

The primary goal of police repression in Ontario, in the vast majority of instances is to disrupt our organizing. By arresting people, giving them non-association conditions (meaning that they cannot speak to their friends without going to jail), “keep the peace” conditions (meaning that they risk more severe legal consequences if they get arrested a second time), the increased use of arrests, even illegitimate ones, Ontario police forces create a climate where organizing communities are disrupted and individual actors are intimidated into silence and non-action.

The TPS uses these arrests as an excuse to identify people by legally compelling that information out of them, and then giving the so-called Canadian state an excuse to publish people’s names and personal information to intimidate people and make them the target of local fascists. This creates tangible consequences for people who are arrested and name-doxxed; it doesn’t matter if you are guilty of the alleged charges if the police force you to divert all your attention, time, and money to resolving the charges and dealing with potential threats to your housing and/or livelihood.


The Canadian police repress anti-Zionist activists because they share imperialist goals with their allies in the Zionist occupation’s police force. In 2005, 32 Canadian Police Chiefs, including the Chief of the OPP and the York Regional Police Chief, partook in a delegation that went to occupied Palestine, hosted by the occupation’s police forces and the Zionist Minister of Internal Security. A couple of months later, 39 Canadian Police Chiefs went to occupied Palestine[14]. Additionally, the RCMP receives police training from the Zionist police forces within occupied Palestine[15]. Just last week, the Toronto Police chief also held a community meeting at a Toronto synagogue publicly denouncing Palestinian solidarity demonstrations as “hate rallies”, thus pushing racist anti-Palestinian narratives that make it easier to criminalize Palestinian solidarity demonstrators without backlash from the general public as consent continues to be manufactured for state repression.

The Canadian federal government, too, is directly involved in financing the repression of Palestinians in the West Bank. The Government of Canada sends the majority of Canadian aid for Palestine to the collaborationist Palestinian Authority which funds the development of the traitorous Palestinian Authority’s security forces in the West Bank. Canada has even sent police personnel to train PA security forces directly through Project Proteus[16]. The PA’s security forces exist to provide security to the Zionist entity, not to provide security for Palestinians under occupation. Canada’s aid, therefore, is designed to make the PA more efficient in repressing Palestinian resistance and defending colonial power. Canadian-trained PA security forces work to quell any anti-imperialist sentiments that promote resistance against the occupation through armed struggle. They also function as an arm of the murderous occupation in the West Bank. For example, the Palestinian Authority security forces assassinated Palestinian pro-resistance activist Nizar Banat only a couple years ago and continue to imprison resistance members today amid the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

The rise in mass anti-Zionist sentiment through public Palestinian solidarity demonstrations threatens Canada’s ongoing aid towards the imprisonment of Palestinians in the occupation’s brutal dungeons wherein over 5,000 Palestinians have been newly detained since October 7th— doubling the original number[17].


The repression being carried out by the TPS and other police forces across so-called Canada against Palestinian and Arab communities and the Palestine liberation movement is akin to that being pursued by other Western imperialist powers, including the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. At this moment, it is critical that we advance and escalate our mobilization and organizing efforts in support of the Palestinian people, their struggle against genocide, and their resistance movement until liberation and return.

We urge action to confront ongoing Canadian complicity in Zionist colonialism– including confronting the listing of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations on Canada’s lists of so-called “terrorist entities.” We also call upon all supporters of Palestinian liberation to show solidarity with and support all of those arrested for their struggle against the imperial war machine and confront repression as we demand freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners and all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20231130002208/https://www.tps.ca/media-centre/news-releases/58059/

[2] https://toronto.citynews.ca/2023/10/30/israel-gaza-protest-toronto-factory-arrests/

[3] https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2193847363886

[4] https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/three-people-arrested-after-demonstrators-interrupt-scotiabank-giller-prize-gala/article_2de13d82-1857-5dff-8456-0f508b1ad07e.html

[5] Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO and one of Starbucks’ current biggest shareholders (https://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/052416/top-4-starbucks-shareholders-sbux.asp) continues to invest in the Zionist entity and even received “The Israel 50th Anniversary Tribute Award)” from the Jerusalem Fund of Aish Ha-Torah for “playing a key role in promoting a close alliance between the United States and Israel” (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/howard-schultz).


[6] https://theintercept.com/2023/10/17/starbucks-suing-union-israel-palestine/

[7] https://toronto.citynews.ca/2023/11/18/woman-charged-in-midtown-starbucks-vandalism/

[8] https://www.tps.ca/media-centre/news-releases/two-men-arrested-in-suspected-hate-motivated-crime/

[9] https://new.thecradle.co/articles-id/2367

[10] https://www.cp24.com/news/Palestinian solidarity-protesters-stage-brief-sit-in-at-eaton-centre-1.6700163?cache=yesclipId10406200text%2Fhtml%3Bcharset%3Dutf-80404%2F7.626236%2F7.626236%2F7.626236%2F7.532963%2F7.532963%2F7.532963%2F7.532963%2F7.532963

[11] https://www.instagram.com/p/C1niGWctCOy/?igsh=MTRoMjY2bzZ2czBnNA==

[12] https://www.tps.ca/media-centre/news-releases/58584/

[13] https://www.tps.ca/media-centre/news-releases/58497/

[14] https://ijvcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Challenging-Israeli-Canadian-Global-Pacification-no-Links.pdf

[15] https://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/activist-reveals-hidden-military-ties-between-canada-and-israel

[16] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/canadian-police-connections-israel-colour-responses-palestinian-solidarity

[17] https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/features/2023/10/21/number-of-palestinian-prisoners-in-israel-doubles-to-10000-in-two-weeks