A man was arrested by Toronto police after he turned up in blackface at a George Floyd protest.
Police had to intervene when a white man appeared among hundreds of peaceful protesters in Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday afternoon, with his face, hair and hands covered in racially offensive black paint.
After a tense confrontation with the police and protesters who had gathered to show solidarity after George Floyd’s death, he was led away by a group of police officers.
The shocking incident was captured on video, with Kamil Karamali, a reporter for Global News Toronto, Tweeting: “Tense moments when a person with black face paints peacefully protest the crowd against anti-black racism.
“Things are flaring and there are calls to arrest the person.”
Mr Karamali added that several people had called for the man to be arrested before the police decided to arrest him for “breach of peace”.
He said, “The Toronto police told me that the person wearing a black face paint who ended up in the middle of a peaceful protest against anti-black racism was arrested for breaking the peace and causing disturbances.”
Blackface is a historically racist practice dating back about 200 years to a time when white artists began to paint their faces black to mock black African slaves in minstrel shows.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture says minstrel shows slaves on South American plantations with negative stereotypes, depicting black people as lazy, ignorant, cowardly, or hypersexual.
The incident followed peaceful scenes when Canadians, many of whom were high school students, joined the global protest movement that called for racial equality.
George, 46, died on May 25 after white agent Derek Chauvin pressed him to the floor with his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes while pleading with him to breathe.
A disturbing video of the incident went viral, triggering a week of sometimes violent protests and civil unrest in the United States calling for racial equality.
His death sparked protests in the United States and in the capitals over systemic racism and police brutality.