Toronto police have arrested and charged two men in connection with a pro-Palestinian demonstration inside a mall in downtown Toronto last month.
On Dec. 17, an estimated 150 people participated in a demonstration in front of the Toronto Eaton Centre Zara location. A week earlier, Zara, a multinational clothing retailer, pulled an advertising campaign that some said bore a resemblance to imagery of the Israel-Hamas war.
Investigators with Toronto police allege that during the demonstration, the two men blocked the entrance of the store, preventing the employees from closing.
“Both men began pushing security and were trying to gain entry into the store,” a release issued by police Sunday reads.
Police allege that one of the men pushed an officer who tried to remove him from the business and that the other struck an officer with an umbrella.
Video from the day that later circulated online shows a crowd chanting in front of the store. In it, one of the protestors can be heard saying “I’ll lay you out on the floor’ and threatening to put someone “six feet deep.”
On Saturday, officers with Toronto police’s Hate Crime Unit executed a search warrant in relation to the incident. Police say “items of evidentiary value” were seized during the raid. The release did not specify the items.
As a result, Toronto police arrested Amro Abufarick, 19, and Malek Abufarick, 34.
Amro has been charged with one count of unlawful assembly, one count of being a member of an unlawful assembly while masked, one count of mischief interfering with property, one count of assaulting a peace officer, and one count of uttering threats.
Malek has been charged with one count of unlawful assembly, one count of mischief interfering with property and one count of assaulting a peace officer.
Both accused made their first court appearances at bail hearings in Toronto on Sunday.
In its release, Toronto police said it “respects people’s right to demonstrate lawfully, but anyone whose behaviour crosses the line from lawful demonstration to criminality can be arrested.”
“Just because someone is not issued a charge at the time does not mean that they cannot be laid at a later date. Officers will continue to investigate, gather evidence, and determine whether charges are appropriate,” it reads.
Police are asking anyone with information related to the investigation to call 416-808-3500.