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Days after Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency and issued a Stay at Home order for Ontario, anti-lockdown protestors rebranded their weekly call against lockdowns as an "Essential Exercise March."
Demonstrators assembled in the streets to protest ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns which have resulted in rampant business closures and joblessness across the country.
Unlike previous weeks there were greeted by a heavy police presence at Yonge-Dundas Square. Police can be seen on video detaining and placing the protesters under arrest.
Protestors stressed their right to protest, but the police responded by arresting one while other protestors urged everyone to not group together and not engage with the police.
"This is assault, what these cops are doing, this is assault" one woman can be heard shouting in the footage.
"This is f**king disgusting man, this is disgusting," a man can be heard saying regarding the police's actions.
Protesters have been repeatedly ordered to disperse by police.
Police attempted to obstruct the path of protesters who ended up walking right around them.
By time of publication, at least two people have been arrested, reportedly including the event organizer.
The demonstration winded down with the crowd of protesters singing "Oh Canada," then chanting, "we are all essential," referring to the arbitrary distinction between "essential workers" who are allowed to work vs "non-essential workers" who have been barred from working or operating their businesses during the lockdowns.
Tensions flared back up shortly afterwards as more scuffles with police occurred and more arrests of protesters were made in the square.
Protesters can be heard screaming as one woman gets arrested, "they just literally put their hands on a woman!"
Police order the crowd repeatedly to "stand down."
Police eventually force the rest of the protesters out of Yonge-Dundas Square, continuing to ask the crowd to disperse. After this point, the crowd complied and dispersed from the area.
Weekly protests in Toronto against COVID-19 shutdowns have been ongoing for several weeks. As economic conditions worsen for Toronto residence, the protests are only expected to continued.
This is a developing story.