'I’ll put you six feet deep': Masked pro-Palestinian makes threat in front of Toronto police officer

‘This makes us all unsafe,’ former Canadian Senator Linda Frum said in sharing the video of the protest on social media

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Videos of a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Toronto’s Eaton Centre on Sunday have gone viral after images emerged of a masked protester telling someone in the presence of Toronto police officers: “I’ll put you six feet deep.”

The words are heard early in the video, which was widely shared on social media. A protester is seen pointing toward police officers who are in the mall, and saying: “I’ll put him on the ground.” He adds: “You come near I’ll put you lay down on the floor (sic) … I’ll put you six feet deep.” The camera then swings to take in the police, who look at one another as the man moves on.

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The protest took place outside a Zara store. Later in the video the man is seen near the police, again saying “I’ll put you six feet deep,” and then adding: “If you’re a man, come touch me.”

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Author and former Canadian Senator Linda Frum shared the video on X, adding: “How is it possible that you can say to a Toronto police officer’s face ‘I’ll put you six feet deep’ and not be arrested? This makes us all unsafe.”

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“It’s deeply concerning when people can make threats like that in the presence of police officers seemingly without consequence,” said Noah Shack, Vice-President of Countering Anti-Semitism and Hate at the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto. “I think it’s important that even if you can’t arrest somebody in the moment, because it might cause the situation to escalate or become more threatening or more violent, that there’s followup, that things are being investigated and people are held to account.”

Shack also praised the Toronto police for recently expanding the size of their hate crimes unit in the face of rising numbers of hate crimes, particularly those targeted at the Jewish community.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Toronto police said that approximately 150 demonstrators entered the Eaton Centre at about 5:30 p.m., and that police were there along with Eaton Centre security.

“We can confirm that a demonstrator and another citizen who was at the mall exchanged words, which you see in a video that’s circulating, and officers were keeping them apart,” the statement said. “We are investigating this incident.”

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It added: “During a situation like this, when tensions are high and there are large crowds of people, including the general public, officers must use their best judgment at the time, taking everyone’s safety into consideration. The mall was very busy with holiday shoppers, and officers used their training to de-escalate the situation and disperse the crowd.”

The rally may have been linked to a campaign to boycott Zara, which included another demonstration on Friday at the Eaton Centre as well as protests at Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Ottawa’s Bayshore Shopping Centre.

The boycott emerged after the release of a Zara ad campaign called “The Jacket,” which featured a model standing in front of some stylized rubble and holding a mannequin wrapped in a shroud. Many people pointed out the resemblance to images of destruction in Gaza since the start of the Israel-Hamas War.

Shack noted that Zara is based in Spain and had already pulled the offending campaign.

“Whatever’s going on in the Middle East is complicated, but this is life here in Canada and people should have some decency to direct their protests where it’s deserved, where it’s merited, where there’s a message being sent,” he said. “It’s not clear to me what these protesters are hoping to achieve other than to harass and intimidate Canadian shoppers during the holiday season.”

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Video from the Ottawa protest was shared by Idit Shamir, Consul General of Israel in Toronto, who added: “Pro-Palestinians terrify young children waiting to meet Santa. Added bonus — they are screaming that Jesus was a Palestinian. You can’t make this stuff up.”

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“When somebody breaks the law there has to be accountability,” Shack said. “Freedom of expression is a cherished Canadian right, and it’s really a crucial value that we all share, but there are limits. When someone’s expression of protest starts to veer into things that are unlawful … this is a step too far that I think most Canadians recognize probably shouldn’t be taking place.”

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