Protests on 401 overpass targeting Jewish neighbourhood, critics say

Protests on 401 overpass targeting Jewish neighbourhood, critics say

Politicians and members of Toronto’s Jewish community called for an end to ongoing protests on the Avenue Rd. overpass — citing concerns about safety and that the rallies are anti-Semitic — after demonstrators closed the bridge on Monday.Article content

Toronto Police said on X that the bridge, which crosses over Hwy. 401, was closed again on Monday due to “public safety concerns” amid ongoing demonstrations in the area.

“There will be no access to Avenue Rd. from Hwy. 401,” Toronto Police posted at 3:04 p.m. “Police are on scene to enforce this in order to keep demonstrators, counter-demonstrators, and passing traffic safe.”

Police said at 9:08 p.m. that all roads had been reopened.

Deputy federal Conservative leader Melissa Lantsman, who is Jewish and represents the GTA riding of Thornhill, raised concerns about the location of the protest after the latest incident, noting there is a Jewish neighbourhood nearby.

“Remind everyone — which embassy, consulate, government office, legislative building is at this specific intersection in Toronto?” Lantsman said in response to a Toronto Police post about the bridge closure on X. “Seems like the target is a Jewish neighbourhood, because it is.

“Gutless politicians say the words to your boss — not to Twitter. If you break the law, you should be punished. Apply the law to everyone who breaks it equally. Stop emboldening the anti-Semitism you’ve ignored for 3 months.”

Her concerns echoed those of Michael Levitt, president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

“Let’s be clear, the targeting of the Avenue Rd. overpass in north Toronto by the anti-Israel mob is far from random,” he posted Sunday on X. “That overpass is a few hundred metres from a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood and is home to multiple synagogues and Jewish schools.”

Levitt also “urgently” asked Mayor Olivia Chow to speak out about the protests.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, who represents the Eglinton-Lawrence riding, said Sunday on X that in response to the protests he has “directly engaged” his provincial and municipal counterparts as well as Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw.

“Antisemitism no longer merely lurks in the shadows,” Mendocino said. “It is now increasingly in plain sight. This is a telltale sign of the erosion of respect that we owe to each other, as Canadians. And it needs to stop.”

The bridge overlooking Canada’s busiest highway has been a hot spot for demonstrations by flag-waving pro-Palestinian protesters and Israeli counter-protesters amid the Israel-Hamas war, including similar gatherings on Dec. 24 and on Saturday.

Before the Dec. 24 protest, Councillor James Pasternak asked the OPP to help Toronto Police prevent the demonstrations from happening, citing his concern that they could distract drivers and cause a “catastrophic accident.

“To distract drivers on a major highway poses risks for everyone using the highway,” Pasternak said in an open letter posted to his social-media accounts.

Source: Toronto Sun


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