Toronto
2 min

Under the rug

Police board ignores its promise

PANTY PATROL. The undies come out for a Pussy Palace protest at 52 Division. Credit: Mark Bogdanovic

The Toronto Police Services Board completely ignored the Pussy Palace at last week’s meeting – one month after saying they would release portions of the internal report into the raid on the women’s bathhouse, and a month and a bit after the chief himself asked that it be completed ASAP and on his desk.



“We’re going to go back,” says Pussy Palace lawyer Frank Addario. “We’re going to ask them after the [municipal] election to live up to the promise of the resolution.”



Police board spokesperson Judith Pfeifer admits there “was nothing on the agenda. No report has been put forward.”



Five women did attend the Oct 26 board meeting; they quietly held up signs “regarding a number of causes,” says Pfeifer, then left. The placards mentioned the death earlier this year of Otto Vass (four Toronto police officers have been charged), and complaints about targeted policing and the raid on the women’s bathhouse. Pussy Palace organizers, however, say they themselves did not attend the meeting.



Police estimate some 125 women and men – swinging their boxers, sober cotton undies, raunchy red lingerie and bustiers – showed up at the Oct 28 Panty Picket protest in front of 52 Division.



“Fuck you 52” was one of the chants – hearkening back to a slogan from the 1981 bathhouse raids, where police destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in property and arrested more than 300 gay men in a carefully orchestrated raid of Toronto bathhouses.



One uniformed officer on duty complained about the foul language, calling it unnecessary.



The demo protested the hour-and-a-half-long raid on the September Pussy Palace – filled with 300 women – by five male plainclothes police officers on what they call a routine liquor inspection and what the women call harassment.



One picket sign read “Sluts can’t be shamed,” and props included a giant vulva and a clothesline of lacey underthings.



A call and reply went: “What do we want?”



“Pussy!”



“When do we want it?”



“Now!”



Even the cops laughed – least 18 of whom lined the entrance to 52 Division, at Dundas and McCaul, during the protest.



Weeks after the raid, two women were charged with liquor licence violations, including the infamous “disorderly conduct” charge, which police are using with increasing frequency to target gay men and lesbians at licensed events.



The accused are Rachael Aitcheson (a special events organizer waving striped boxers) and JP Hornick (a professor carrying polka dotted boxers); the two women signed the special occasions permit obtained for Club Toronto for the evening of Sep 14.



Addario won’t let the accused give interviews. “No, because I don’t know what the case against me is. I haven’t been given any witness statements, any disclosure at all. I am entitled…. Everybody has a theory, but there are no facts.”



Organizers hope women who attended the bathhouse will send in signed witness statements (which can be dropped off at 175 Harbord St, faxed to 588-2140 or e-mailed to h.cook@utoronto.ca).



And City Councillor Kyle Rae, threatened with a slander suit for accusing plainclothes Det David Wilson’s “rogue cops” squad of going in on a “panty raid,” has still not been served with the legal papers. “I don’t know what the time frame is,” says Wilson’s lawyer, Michael Freeman. “We’re still considering [suing].”