The fallout from the raids in Marie Curtis Park in Etobicoke is severe and immediate. 72 men face a variety of charges stemming from bylaw infractions and a sting operation in which it appears entrapment tactics of policing were used. We demand to know why and at what cost Toronto police undertook these actions which have deeply disturbed the LGBTQ2 community.
These raids follow the formal apology from Toronto Police for their historic 1981 raids on gay bathhouses, Operation Soap. This apology, made only 5 months ago, was greeted with skepticism by many of us. These raids make it clear that our skepticism was warranted.
The police and media have suggested that the vulnerability of children is at the root of the operation in question. Yet no data from TPS concerning these charges implies that this is the case. We actively challenge the conflation of consensual adult sexual activity of any kind with pedophilia. Our community has been the victim of homophobic police campaigns for the last 40 years and more. We will not stand for being an easy target for an antiquated and wasteful morality squad that endangers queer lives.
We call for an end to Toronto Police Services’ wild and inflammatory rhetoric about the nature of these arrests.
We call on the LGBTQ2 community to offer support and understanding for the men arrested in this operation, and to come together to demand that Toronto Police Services cease and desist Project Marie and any similar undercover sting operations in the future.
We call on Chief Mark Saunders to publicly condemn this operation, to clarify who at Toronto Polices Services gave the go-ahead for the operation, and to reveal the total costs associated with Project Marie.
And finally, we call on Attorney General Yasir Naqvi to intervene and withdraw all charges facing the 72 individuals charged as a result of Project Marie, and to expunge those individuals’ records so their future employment or volunteer prospects are not threatened.
Queers Crash the Beat