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Black Lives Matter demonstration continues at Toronto police HQ

Last Updated Mar 22, 2016 at 9:11 am EDT

A Black Lives Matter demonstration, calling for more police transparency, is continuing at Toronto police headquarters on Tuesday morning.

“This is a positive and peaceful action that we’re hosting,” organizer Yusra Khogali said on Tuesday. About 40 demonstrators remained outside police headquarters around 5:30 a.m.

“Yet yesterday they raided us as if we were criminals … the police are interacting with the Black community as they always do.”

The initially peaceful protest began at Nathan Phillips Square on Sunday, with demonstrators camping out in tents.

The protest moved to police headquarters on College Street on Monday. That’s when Toronto police officers moved to break up the demonstration, taking down tents and putting out a fire around 9 p.m.

One demonstrator, Loveleen Kang, said Toronto Fire had allowed them to have a small fire.

The actions of Toronto police have drawn criticism, especially because Monday was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. During the protest, Police Chief Mark Saunders was speaking at an event about the elimination of racism. He was not at the demonstration.

Demonstrators said the police actions were violent and posted photos and video on Twitter. Toronto police also tweeted about the demonstration, saying they had to remove the tents and fire for safety reasons.

In a written statement, police told CityNews that they facilitate “peaceful disputes and protests. The law however, prohibits open fires and tents. Officers removed the tents and facilitated the extinguishing of the fire after repeated requests were refused.”

As for video showing officers dragging protesters, police said they were obstructing police.

“To enforce the law, we had to move those who were obstructing police,” a police spokesperson said.

Members of Black Lives Matter were calling not only for more police transparency but also for the city to reverse changes to Afrofest. The two-day festival was recently reduced to one day.

Demonstrators want to know the name, or names, of the officer or officers who killed Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby, and charges against the officers involved in Loku’s death. Earlier this month, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) ruled that the officer used “justifiable force” in the July 2015 shooting.

Loku, 45, was holding a hammer when he was killed.

They are also protesting the recent police shooting of Alex Wettlaufer. The SIU told CityNews three officers are believed to have discharged their firearms in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old man in a North York park on March 13.

Black Lives Matter is also asking for a full review of the SIU.