an effort to force Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic back to
the negotiating table in the ongoing war between the Serb and
the Albanians, NATO began a strategic bombing campaign in Kosovo.
Serbian demonstrators in Toronto conducted nightly protests against
the bombing, outside the United States Consulate on University
Ave., from March 25th until the campaign halted on June 17th,
For the most
part, the two and one-half months of protests were peaceful, however,
that first evening of Thursday March 25th, things got ugly. By
9 p.m. a large crowd had gathered. Officers from the Public Order
Unit, the Mounted Unit, and 52 Division formed a protective cordon
between the 1200 demonstrators and the U.S. Embassy. Despite pleas
for a peaceful protest from our officers and Serbian spokespeople,
violence erupted. Within a few minutes, the front of the Embassy
was in flames as a result of thrown Molotov cocktails. A barrage
of paint bombs, eggs and rocks flew at, and over the heads of
our officers, breaking windows and scarring the face of the building.
A small fire inside the Embassy, caused by a firebomb thrown through
a window, was quickly extinguished. Two of our officers suffered
serious head and leg injuries, and were taken to hospital for
treatment. It took over an hour to disperse the agitated crowd.
arrests were effected in the immediate aftermath of the violence
and over the following days as the perpetrators were identified
through photographic evidence.
never again erupted to this degree, a large contingent of our
PSU and Mounted officers remained on scene nightly to ensure the
safety of all, until the last demonstration June 17th, 1999.
Over the course
of these protests, a total of 24,000 regular, and 28,000 overtime
hours were worked by our personnel, for an all-up cost of $2.1
of media photos succinctly captures the events of that first evening,
March 25th, 1999.