As anti-racism protests raged in cities the world over last weekend in light of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop, a bizarre and unique thing happened at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. Namely, a 28-year-old individual later identified as Deivis Shtembari of Vaughan, Ont., showed up to the demonstration donning blackface.
Constables with the Toronto Police Service realized that the sight of Deivis in blackface might go sideways very quickly given that the vast majority of protesters were taking a stand against anti-black racism. So it was that the cops escorted Deivis away from the rest.
Yet, what’s the deal with Deivis? Why did he choose to don blackface at such an event?
Was Deivis making a political statement? I.e., was he lampooning the hypocrisy of Prime Minister Justin “Diversity is our Strength” Trudeau given that the PM is a huge aficionado of blackface himself (donning the ebony-hued shoe polish so many times that not even Justin can recall the precise number)?
Or was Deivis trying to cause a ruckus (that would’ve been a sure-bet had police not arrived)?
We were actually able to track down Deivis, who lives with his parents in Vaughan. His mother and father were not interested in speaking about their son, and Deivis later sent us a convoluted text to let us know he wasn’t in the mood to come on camera, either.
Still, he will have to say something to a judge next month. That’s because Deivis, who was initially charged by Toronto Police for Breach of Peace, later had his charge upgraded to Cause A Disturbance.
Perhaps what Deivis did was both distasteful and inappropriate. But did he actually commit a bona fide crime?
And if a judge deems that his use of blackface is indeed fine-worthy or jail-worthy, another question arises: can we except law enforcement to show up at Rideau Cottage to charge Justin Trudeau, too? Or does the use of blackface entail who’s donning it and where? Or is this yet another case of “one law for me, one law for me” when it comes to our elected elites?
So many questions! And hopefully we’ll get some answers come mid-July when Deivis has his day in court.