Organizers of a rally in Canada, to protest the Ferguson grand jury decision over the police shooting of Michael Brown, have urged white people, as well as other people of color (POC), to exercise restraint and allow black people to speak up instead. The move has sparked a debate on social media about the rally's underlying purpose.

“While we appreciate the solidarity shown by White and Non-Black POC, we want to remind folks of some things…Please refrain from taking up space in all ways possible. Remember that you are there in support of black folks, so should never be at the centre of anything,” Bilan Arte, one of the organizers, wrote on the vigil’s Facebook page. “Refrain from speaking to the media. Black voices are crucial to this.”

One of the rally organizers in Ottawa wrote on the Facebook page that white people should stay in the background and intervene only when they see police “harassing” black people because they are “least likely to arrest you.” The message was also conveyed through a post on the Facebook page of a similar event in Toronto.

The posts sparked debate on social media as some users questioned if the rally was “anti-racist” or “pro-segregation.”

The rally is being organized to protest a grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Brown, a black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9. The decision, which was announced Monday night, has triggered protests across the United States.

A social media user wrote in response to Arte’s post: “I'm not sure why white people would have to refrain from taking up space…. won't that push them away from coming to support and won't it help to have support from the whole world, not just the black community…? I think it would be a terrible idea to ask non-black people to not talk to the media.”

However, others argued that it was necessary to ensure that black people were seen to be leading the protests.

“It's not about us. It's about showing solidarity with people whose lives are affected by Ferguson — and that's not really us. That's not really white people,” Rebecca Macintyre told CBC News.

Peaceful demonstrations were held in Ottawa and Toronto Tuesday following a night of violent protests in Ferguson, which saw several buildings and vehicles being burnt, while angry protesters clashed with police. The incident also forced the deployment of the National Guard and several people were arrested. Police also had to use tear gas to disperse unruly crowds. People across the U.S. demonstrated under the banner “Black Lives Matter” and “Emergency Response Protests to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision.”

St. Louis County police said late Tuesday that they had confiscated two guns, Molotov cocktails and other items that were thrown at officers in Ferguson. The department also posted a photograph of the items on its Twitter account.