Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has apologized for a recent skirmish between his supporters and LGBT rights activists.
Fans of the mayor, who collectively refer to themselves as “Ford Nation,” confronted protestors at last Friday’s Ford Fest, an annual summer celebration thrown by the politician at Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough.
The crowd instigated heated verbal exchanges, jeered at the protestors, and at one point grabbed their signs, tore them into pieces, and jumped on them. At least one LGBT activist may been physically assaulted, the CBC reports, though the individual is not pressing charges at this time.
“It's terrible that things like that happen,” Ford said Saturday in an interview Saturday at Taste of Toronto. “I apologize, and we have to move on.”
Ford, who claims he was in a tent with supporters at the time of the incident, also called the public barbecue "the best Ford Fest we've ever had."
The mayor, who is running for reelection, has frequently clashed with the city's LGBT community. He created controversy recently after he did not stand and applaud with fellow city council members in support of the organizers of WorldPride Toronto, a celebration of the global LGBT community held in June. Although Ford claimed that the act was not intended to be homophobic, he also did not respond to reporters who asked why he remained seated.
He was also criticized by activists earlier this year when he attempted to remove a rainbow flag from city hall that had been raised in support of LGBT athletes competing at the Sochi Olympics.
Members of Toronto's LGBT community and its allies responded by turning up at Ford Fest with signs advocating for his removal from office. They were met with jeers and hostility from members of the crowd of nearly 1500.
"He needs to be held accountable," protestor Poe Liberado said. "His buffoonery is dangerous, his positions are dangerous, and he needs to be taken seriously."
"He's a disgrace," added protester Kevin Speight. "He's embarrassing our city."