Dozens of people in Victoria have been flocking to Centennial Square, and many more are expected to make their way downtown in the next few hours for one purpose:
A rally in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States that was sparked by police killing George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Canada’s neighbour to the south has seen riots and escalating police brutality over the past few days as authorities employ tear gas, rubber bullets, and mace to crack down on protesters and identified journalists alike.
In Victoria, the scene is far more peaceful as demonstrators hold up signs stating the names of Black people who have died in police custody in the U.S. in recent years.
Many protestors are seen wearing masks as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Peaceful demonstration is our right… but we cannot forget that we are still in the middle of a pandemic that is affecting our communities and our loved ones,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry in her briefing on Monday.
She cautioned the 3,500+ BLM protesters who gathered in Vancouver on Sunday about their risks of contracting COVID-19 after being part of such a large gathering, and advised them to monitor their symptoms over the next two weeks.
At the rally in Victoria, demonstrators are expected to remain at Centennial Square until 5 p.m., after which they will make their way to the B.C. Legislature to hold a candlelight vigil for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality at 7 p.m.
As of the time of publication, over 1,200 people have expressed interest in attending.