Posted on November 28, 2014

The Controversial Rules for White People Who Were Told ‘Not to Take up Space’ at Michael Brown Vigil in Toronto

Mia de Graaf, Daily Mail, November 26, 2014

A set of rules for white people at a vigil for Michael Brown in Canada has sparked controversy with critics accusing organizers of promoting segregation.

‘Non black allies’ were told to ‘refrain from taking up space in all ways possible’ and ‘never be at the centre of anything’ at the event in Toronto on November 25.

The Facebook page also advised white demonstrators to ‘refrain from speaking to the media’ and ‘stand behind black folks or between us and the police’.

‘If you see a cop harassing a black person,’ it added, ‘come in and engage (chances are they are least likely to arrest you)’.

It has provoked tension in the wake of the grand jury verdict in Ferguson, which refused to indict officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

Protests have been staged across the United States and Canada, and further afield, after Michael Brown’s shooting highlighted severe racial divides between the majority white police force and citizens in Ferguson, a predominantly African American suburb of St Louis, Missouri.

Millions of people have taken to the streets across the globe to protest racism and segregation.

However, the peaceful protests were marred by a war of words on Wednesday as the Facebook event created by Black Lives Matter: Toronto was flooded with accusations of racism.

One user wrote: ‘Wow, is this an anti-racist rally or a pro-segregation one?’

Another said: ‘Changed a lot for me. I will no longer be attending this event or supporting this cause.’

Others, however, supported the organizers.

‘So many white tears about the rules for allies . . . Why can’t you let black folk stand in the centre and let their voices be heard, just for once,’ one commented.

And one said: ‘I can’t believe how the media and so many of the commenters on this page are making this event about White people.

‘Do you think that putting Black voices at the forefront of a conversation about racism against Black people is wrong?’