Black Lives Matter protesters packed up their things and ended a two-week sit-in outside the Toronto police headquarters Monday — but controversy over the movement has just begun. Yusra Khogali, one of the local chapter's co-founders, is gathering criticism over a controversial message she wrote online.
“Plz Allah give me strength not to cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz,” a tweet from her account apparently read.
Khogali’s Twitter was not publicly available, but host Jerry Agar of CFRB-AM's Newstalk show raised the issue, tweeting out an image of a printed version of the message Tuesday. Neither the Toronto chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement nor Khogali could be reached when contacted by the Toronto Star, the newspaper reported.
— Stephanie Smyth (@stephaniesmyth) April 5, 2016
Reactions to Khogali’s message were mixed. Stephanie Smyth, an editor with Toronto's CP24, called it "a disturbing tweet." But Marjorie Wallens, a public relations consultant, told the Star that the group should be commended for remaining controlled, and said many would be willing to overlook the controversial message.
“Their passion is there and I think in the court of public opinion people would look at it and say, ‘Well, there’s an issue,’” Wallens said. “It might be a bit more disorganized or some people may say inappropriate or incendiary things, but ... they have gotten the attention of the various governments and the police.”
Megan Boler, a University of Toronto professor in the social justice education department, said the focus on a “throwaway comment” was a “deeply disturbing distraction” from the issues the demonstrators sought to raise, the Toronto newspaper reported.
— SPIN (@spinelpoeta) April 6, 2016
— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) April 5, 2016
Protesters in Toronto staged a sit-in outside the police headquarters calling for reform of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, which is often tasked with investigating deaths by police. A number of politicians, labor activists and school board trustees expressed support for the movement, Toronto Metro reported. The action was meant to call attention to discrimination against black Canadians.
As the sit-in came to an end Monday, Khogali spoke to supporters from a megaphone, addressing police with comments that were also considered “hyperbolic,” the Star reported.
“If you think this is the end, you are irresponsible. It is irresponsible for you to feel safe. Do you hear me police? Do you hear me police? It is irresponsible for you to feel safe. If we are not safe, you are not safe,” Khogali said.