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Community group Friends of Chinatown says hosting anti-masker Chris Sky at a livestream event poses a safety risk
The community group Friends of Chinatown (FOCT) is urging Caryma Sa’d to cancel a planned outdoor public debate with anti-masker Chris Sky in front of Chinatown Centre.
The lawyer and activist announced plans to face off with Sky, aka Chris Saccoccia, as part of the outdoor comedy event 420 Cannabis Court on July 10. A time for the interview, which will take place at 222 Spadina in the mall courtyard known as the Chinatown Anti-Displacement Garden, has not yet been announced.
The interview will be livestreamed at 9pm on Saturday as part of her show Caryma Rules The Night. In-person seating will be restricted to 25 people, per Ontario’s step 2 outdoor gathering limits, Sa’d told NOW earlier this week.
On Friday, Friends of Chinatown wrote in a statement on social media that S’ad is “platforming a known racist anti-vax public figure” and questioned the event’s safety measures.
“Using his public platform and private social networks, Sky inspires copycat actions such as the harassment of small and large businesses on camera,” the FOCT statement reads. “We have concerns that those sharing his sentiments against businesses and racialized individuals will be in attendance, resistant to following the ‘physical distancing’ advertised in event promotions.
“A crowd of unvaccinated anti-maskers would endanger racialized, senior community members, especially during a time when various grassroots organizations have been working to get first and second doses to the neighbourhood with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city,” the statement continues. “As community members, we do not condone this event, and we express our genuine concern for those who live and work in the neighbourhood.
“We urge that this event be cancelled for the safety of the community.”
The Kensington Market BIA also posted a statement on Instagram on Friday advising anyone who witnesses harassment in the area to contact one of its community officers.
The son of Vaughan real estate developer Art Saccoccia, Sky has earned a rep as the pied piper of the anti-mask and anti-lockdown movements. On May 20, Toronto police laid criminal charges against the 37-year-old for allegedly making death threats against Premier Doug Ford and driving his car at officers who were trying to arrest him.
He’s appeared at anti-lockdown rallies across Canada and was arrested in Thunder Bay in April for organizing a public gathering, which attracted a crowd of counter-protestors blasting Celine Dion music in an attempt to drown him out. Sky was also charged with breaking federal quarantine rules last October.
Sa’d has been showing up at anti-mask rallies and criticizing Sky online, drawing the ire of his followers. She told NOW in a recent interview that she is trying to understand the mindset of anti-maskers and has noticed a growing presence of right-wing extremists at the protests.
Despite having a controversial & despicable guest for the main event, the substance of the show won’t be inflammatory.
Laughter is a powerful force, and I’m hoping to harness that energy. We spend inordinate amounts of time being angry and afraid; this is my medicine.— Caryma Sa’d – Lawyer (@CarymaRules) July 9, 2021
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Sa’d said on Friday that the neighbours’ concerns around safety and Sky’s presence are “valid,” but she plans to proceed with the event, insisting her security will deal with “antagonistic behaviour.”
“I know firsthand there are potential dangers, and I also accept that I can’t control every outcome,” she wrote
“People concerned about safety should know that the event itself is limited to 25 people, and there will be strict crowd control,” she added. “I am confident in my security team’s ability to protect participants and bystanders from bad actors. I do not condone any gatherings outside the event.”
In a statement released on Saturday, Sa’d’s lawyer Naomi Sayers said that Toronto police would be on site enforcing trespass notices and disperse any gatherings.
“Individuals who are not on the guest list are urged to stay at home, and may face criminal and/or civil repercussions for trespass to land,” Sayers wrote.