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Was Apology From Toronto Police to LGBT Community Too Late?

Was Apology From Toronto Police to LGBT Community Too Late?

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Pride Toronto's clash with Black Lives Matter brought up some old skeletons in the closet of the city's LGBT history.

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When Black Lives Matter interrupted Toronto's Pride parade Sunday with a list of demands that the activist group wanted met, including a promise not to allow police in future parades, it reminded LGBT Toronto residents about two police actions against their community in years past.

In 2000, Toronto police raided a bathhouse party, called Pussy Palace, attended by 350 women." Six officers "barged in on women, many of whom were naked," reported CBC News. And in 1981 police raided a gay bathhouse and arrested 286 men on charges of prostitution and indecency, according to The Guardian.

Organizers of the Pussy Palace event were charged with liquor violations, but those charges were later rescinded after the group won a $350,000 settlement against the police.

The Pussy Palace event was organized by the Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee, which rejected a public apology from Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders in June, reports The Globe and Mailof Toronto.

Chanelle Gallant, an activist who was on the event committee, told The Globe and Mail in Junethat the group appreciated the apology because it was "well-intentioned" but felt that it didn't address issues that continue to affect LGBT Toronto residents.

"It leaves out the criminalization and violent targeting of racialized, indigenous and marginalized groups within and outside of LGBTQ communities," Gallant told the paper. Apologies are "meaningless without concrete actions attached and the demands of Black Lives Matter are the best starting point," she added.

Saunders also expressed regret for the 1981 bathhouse raid, but some activists found this less than satisfactory, Tim McCaskell, a man who was at the bathhouse during the raid, wrote an op-ed for the Daily Xtra,saying, "Half-hearted regrets at conveniently-timed Pride month press conferences just perpetuate an abusive relationship." Such apologies should be greeted "with the derision they deserve," he wrote.

"Congratulations to Black Lives Matter Toronto who disrupted the ceremony," added McCaskell.

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Yezmin Villarreal

Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.
Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.