On Oct. 1, Katie Somers of Toronto Against Abortion (TAA) was assaulted at Ryerson University during a pro-life demonstration.
TAA released video of a peaceful discussion between pro-life activists and a number of pro-abortion counter-protesters that was interrupted by Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective (RRJC) member Gabby Skwarko, when the pro-abortion activist attacked Somers and TAA founder Blaise Alleyne. Skwarko kicked and pushed Alleyne before swinging at and throwing a metal cart at Somers, who fell to the ground. Skwarko proceeded to grab Somers’s backpack and violently yanked an object from it and threw it to the ground.
Another, unidentified member of the RRJC is seen blocking the camera filming the altercation and most of the dialogue is inaudible, although Skwarko can be heard challenging the pro-lifers, “C’mon, let’s go” and “Let’s do it,” which were presumably invitations to fight.
An unidentified person can be heard telling Skwarko to “relax.”
Police and an ambulance were called to the scene, and Somers said she suffered injuries including bruises to her leg. The police have opened an investigation but no charges have been filed.
In a blog post about the attack, Somers said, ”despite our consistent peaceful and civil approach, our team members have faced significant verbal assault, theft and damage to our property and sometimes, things have even gotten physical.”
Somers said she would continue despite the violence, preferring to focus on positive exchanges with individuals who have changed their minds about abortion after seeing TAA’s abortion-victim imagery.
Altercations between pro-life and pro-abortion counter-protesters are not rare on the Ryerson campus. “This is one of many incidents our Ryerson Team has had to endure over the past two years from the student unions and the Reproductive Justice Collective,” Alleyne said. But he prefers to focus on the positive. “Hearts and minds are being changed on abortion at Ryerson every week, and our team is growing,” he said. “We will not be intimidated by violence.”
Somers told Global News she plan to press charges and launch a civil suit in response to the attack.
TAA released a video showing the assault days after Campaign Life Coalition’s Marie-Claire Bissonnette posted video of her being assaulted in Toronto during LifeChain.