July 20, 2024
Raptors parade was a disaster on many levels
Queen and Bay is blocked off after a shooting during the Raptors Championship parade on Monday June 17, 2019.
Queen and Bay is blocked off after a shooting during the Raptors Championship parade on Monday June 17, 2019.

“Get down!” the policeman screamed, and as Larry Tanenbaum spoke from stage at City Hall on a championship celebration we should have remembered forever, that was all that I heard.

“Get down!”

The voice repeated itself louder and more officiously as bodies were crunching together below the cement wall on the elevated catwalk at Nathan Phillips Square, bodies piled beside and on top of each other, people with fear in their eyes, hoping for the best.

This wasn’t the day anyone envisioned for the Toronto Raptors’ victory parade and celebration. This wasn’t the grand time anyone had realistically hoped for. Four people were shot. At least four bullets had been fired outside the Square, probably more. A lot of people, running to get away, got trampled on.

Across the street, at the Sheraton Hotel, the Queen St. doors were closed due to a “police investigation.” At the BNB restaurant in the lobby, the doors were locked shut so those injured could be assessed and attended to.

And before the eventual evacuation of the upper level at Nathan Phillips, there was mostly panic and certainly confusion. The words from the stage seemed muffled and unimportant. The words from the stage, from management and players, lacked the usual parade silliness, and it all seemed appropriately lost in confusion. There wasn’t a Brett Hull to be found anymore, which was probably a good thing.

This was the day of the unexpected — and a day that, once upon a time, seemed to be anything but Toronto. You don’t expect to take a young child to a sporting parade and wind up separated from them in all the running, falling and confusion.

But, over time, this city has entered that real world —things that didn’t used to happen here, happen here now and far too regularly — and, by the end of the afternoon, a botched parade seemed rather insignificant in the big picture when compared to public safety.


See Also:

(1) Six charged in shooting after Raps’ Finals win