A Toronto man arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot the city’s mayoral candidates received funding from the City of Toronto in 2013 via a grant program dedicated to funding local artists.
A Toronto Arts Council 2013 Allocations funding document lists the accused, Junior Francois Lavagesse, as the recipient of a $1,000 microgrant from the City through a “Arts for Children and Youth” fund.
A video posted to Lavagesse’s YouTube channel, titled “16 Bars,” on May 28, 2014 also references the Toronto Arts Council microgrant. Lavagesse also went under the stage name “Jae Legit” and was a performer in the local Toronto rap scene.
On Thursday, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) arrested Lavagesse and charged him with two counts of weapons dangerous, carrying a concealed weapon, uttering threats and failure to comply with a recognizance.
According to a TPS news release, “a man entered a location and made threatening remarks about shooting Toronto mayoral candidates” and “the man brandished what appeared to be a firearm.”
Lavagesse appeared before the Toronto Regional Bail Centre on Friday morning for a scheduled court appearance.
“No candidates were present when the threats were made today. As far as I’m aware, the location is unrelated to any candidate appearances,” TPS spokesperson Stephanie Sayer told the outlet CP24.
“This was a blanket threat and there was no specific candidate named.”
Lavagesse also received glowing coverage from Canadian legacy media outlet The Globe and Mail in 2014
The outlet dedicated a special profile to the accused, Junior Francois Lavagesse, in an article titled “From brooklyn to beats and Toronto Streets” in Jan. 2014.
According to Globe reporter Sissi Wang, Lavagesse had “turned his life around” as a youth leader and hip hop artist in Toronto.
In the interview, Lavagesse claimed that he left “the thug life” behind and pursued a life as a hip hop artist, hoping to encourage others to do the same.
“Growing up, music was my passion and an outlet to express myself. Running workshops for 16 Bars Hip Hop made me realize my potential and released me from the thug life,” said Lavagesse.