The gay community needs to decide where to go next, says an activist.
Greg Pavelich organized this month’s public forum, Cops, Community, Consensual Sex: Are We Under Attack?, which looked at The Bijou raids.
He then helped set up a working meeting with other activists and interested members of the public for Wednesday, which was after Xtra went to press.
“We need to decide what we want to do,” Pavelich says.
He has quite a few ideas. Possibilities include:
A watchdog for the police
A group monitoring project. “There’s the possibility of holding people in the community and politicians, accountable.
A committee to track those who have been arrested in the Bijou case
Finally, Pavelich says activists are considering a group that would work to repeal the bawdy house and indecency provisions of the Criminal Code, a completely undefined collection of crimes interpreted by the courts based on often conservative, but always heterosexual, community standards.
Gosh, what does Toronto Police Chief David Boothby think about the Bijou raids?
We may never know.
He hasn’t returned Xtra’s calls.
And now, the numbers.
For the first two weeks of the 11-week Community Action Policing Project, the mayor and the Toronto Police Force sent out joint press releases listing the number of arrests resulting from the special program.
The Jul 30 communiqué was headlined “Second week of CAP — continued success.”
“Mayor Mel Lastman and Toronto Police Chief David Boothby today marked the conclusion of the second week of CAP with the release of the following Toronto police statistics.
“Since the beginning of this project, we have documented over 4,182 TPS 208s,” reads the document.
That’s bureaucratese for the number of people harassed by officers, who are using up a windfall $1.9-million for overtime on the streets, with specific instructions to check out parks and panhandlers.
For example: Officers demand names and birthdates from squeegee kids. The information is jotted down on specially designed cards. The names are called in and checked for priors or outstanding warrants.
A 52 Division officer told this reporter that, in the event of a crime being committed in the area, police go back through that night’s cards for suspects.
The press release continues with a list of numbers; that week, there were “162 arrests and 589 provincial offences charges across the city. Last night, while we were patrolling many of the parks, we noticed a noticeable improvement, said Deputy Chief Michael Boyd.”
The notes, however, don’t tell what types of charges are being filed.
“I am pleased to see a reduction in the squeegee activity,’ said Mayor Mel Lastman. ‘Either people are stopping the activity or just plain leaving town. We were becoming the squeegee capital of the world, but now it is on the decline.”
The press releases have since stopped coming.
If you’ve been hassled by the police, call Xtra at (416) 925-6665 ext 231.