Last Wednesday afternoon, as Michael Bryant signed copies of his new memoir at the Toronto Reference Library, a dozen friends of Darcy Allan Sheppard—the bike courier killed in an altercation with Bryant in August 2009—gathered outside.
A semi-circle, including bike couriers still in their work wear, faced the street and propped up foam tombstones bearing Sheppard’s name, with flowers laid before them. Friends of Sheppard wore dark suits and dresses.
And unlike many previous anti-Bryant demonstrations, the crowd wasn’t especially angry or interested in finger-pointing (though one attendee did don a Michael Bryant mask and do some mock driving around foam tombstones) as much as they were resigned and sombre.
Alan Wayne Scott, a founder and director of the Active Workers Transport Guild and a former bike courier of 24 years, knew Sheppard and spoke at great length about what he felt was the injustice of Bryant publishing a book about the tragedy: “[Sheppard] is being used for Bryant’s own purposes, and this is an absolutely travesty… I’ve got no problem with Michael Bryant, [though] I think he’s a sad little man. He has brought all of this all on himself.”
Bryant stayed inside for the duration of the vigil, but protest organizer Ben Mueller-Heaslip had some idea what he would have said if Bryant had engaged them.
“You have a right to move on with your life. You don’t have a right to a platform that involves manipulating another man’s… If he wants to move on and actually learn something from this, rather than the nonsense he’s put in his book, then it’s time to start acting like he’s learned something. Then we’ll listen to him. We’re rational people.”