Showing posts with label Toronto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toronto. Show all posts

June 20, 2020

Toronto Cop Has Been Paid $1Million While on Suspension

An imminent legal decision could serve as another reminder that in one Canadian province, cops who commit crimes and violate procedures earn healthy paychecks long after they’ve been busted.
One suspended Toronto police officer has made more than a million dollars while serving a suspension—now in its 13th year. 
Toronto Police Constable Ioan-Florin Floria has been suspended with pay since 2007, when he was arrested and charged with several crimes. Police said Floria “was closely associated with an Eastern European criminal organization,” and had “outlined methods of avoiding police detection.” Floria’s friends were arrested in a parallel drug bust. 
A workplace tribunal fired Floria in 2018, but he appealed to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, maintaining his spot on the force—and his salary. 
“The victim is me and [the] Toronto Police Service and the public,” Floria said in a 2017 phone interview, adding that his salary on suspension totalled “$800,000 minimum.” He earned over $100,000 every year since then—including $109,000 in 2019, according to provincial disclosures, putting him easily over a million dollars. 
The commission is expected to rule on Floria’s appeal next month. The ruling will arrive after worldwide protests against police brutality and other misconduct, and significant pressure to defund police forces. 
Floria is one of 34 Toronto officers currently suspended with pay, according to a list released to VICE News this week. Ontario law, which allows for unpaid suspensions only in rare circumstances, is a longstanding source of embarrassment for police chiefs, as many suspended officers earn six-figure salaries—the National Post reported in 2015 that “at least 80” suspended Ontario cops were “costing taxpayers a minimum of $13,635.59 per day.”
New legislation in Ontario provides modest additions to police chiefs’ powers to suspend officers without pay. An officer could be suspended without pay if they are “charged with a serious offence…under a law of Canada,” among other criteria. But the province has yet to define what constitutes a serious offence, a spokesperson said, and police services continue to follow the old legislation. 
Police believed that Floria had covered up a kidnapping after a marijuana grower, who he knew socially, told him in 2005 that he had been abducted. The grower’s boss in the drug trade paid a purported $200,000 for his release. Floria pretended to investigate as a way of providing cover for his friends, who allegedly were responsible, a jury heard during the criminal trial. 
A jury acquitted Floria of all charges in 2012. A workplace discipline hearing followed, with witness testimony only beginning in 2016. 
Toronto police prosecutors focused on Floria’s failure to fulfill his duties as a police officer after learning of the marijuana grower’s kidnapping and another abduction. Floria had already said at his criminal trial that failing to write a report on the marijuana grower’s claims was “the biggest mistake of my life.” He also said he investigated, and concluded there had been no kidnapping.
The workplace hearing moved slowly. The marijuana grower, who testified via video link and through an interpreter, unravelled and gave sometimes-bizarre answers.
“God is big, and he sees all these things,” he said in the midst of a gruelling cross-examination. 
In an appeal statement, defence lawyer Lawrence Gridin criticized the prosecution for moving slowly during the discipline process, even when dealing with records that should have been familiar. He also criticized the tribunal’s handling of the testimony of the marijuana grower, who has admitted to lying to police. Floria wants three of his four convictions overturned, but is not challenging one that did not come with a dismissal penalty . 
Floria’s legal battles may not end with the ruling, which could be appealed to the province’s Divisional Court. 
Floria recently asked this reporter not to contact him again, but said in 2017 he was ready for a long legal battle.
“I’m going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said.
Follow Stephen Spencer Davis on Twitter.

June 19, 2020

Do people in Canada Trust The Police? They Speak Out Now, The Good The Bad and The Ugly

The Toronto Star reported last year that punishments for drinking and driving at the TPS were more lenient than those of other area police forces. A 2006 document from the Ontario Provincial Police noted that as the OPP warned officers of demotion for"alcohol-related driving allegations," the force's Toronto counterparts opted for"penalties ranging from six days off to twelve days off."
The prosecutor in the Egeli case submitted a 1986 document from a provincial policing commission, which noted that the Toronto police had been"left behind" when it came to penalties for impaired driving. 
This long-standing disparity in penalties could help lawyers defend officers accused of drunk driving, according to OPP Insp. Charles Young.At hearings, where prosecution and defence submit past disciplinary decisions to support their arguments, Young said lawyers representing OPPofficers sometimes provide only Toronto cases.

April 23, 2018

Nine Dead in Toronto Car Plowing Thru Pedestrians Incident

Aerial footage shows emergency services treating pedestrians involved in the hit and run in Toronto

TORONTO (Reuters) - A driver plowed his white Ryder rental van into a crowd, killing nine people and injuring 16 on a busy Toronto sidewalk on a sunny Monday afternoon, police said. 
Toronto Deputy Chief Peter Yuen announced the casualties at a news conference. He said the driver was in custody. 
The incident occurred just before 1:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) as large crowds of office workers were on lunch breaks. At least one witness described the driver as appearing to deliberately target victims on his roughly mile-long (1.6 km-long) rampage. 
A Reuters witness saw at least two tarp-covered bodies at the site of the incident. Five people remained in critical condition at Sunnybrook Health Services Centre on Monday afternoon, the hospital said. 
It was not immediately clear if the incident was a deliberate act by the driver or a traffic mishap in a mixed commercial and residential area. 
Canada’s public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, declined to comment on what may have motivated the attack.  “The investigation is at a stage where no further information can be confirmed at this point,” Goodale told a news conference said. “The police are conducting obviously their thorough investigation to determine what happened and why it happened, the motivations involved.” 
Ryder System Inc (R.N) spokeswoman Claudia Panfil confirmed that one of the company’s rental vehicles had been involved in the incident and said the company was cooperating with authorities. 
There have been a string of deadly vehicle attacks in the United States and Europe, including an Oct. 31 attack in New York that killed eight. Islamic State militant group encourages its supporters to use vehicles for attacks. 
Toronto is hosting a Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting about 30 kms (18 miles) away from the scene of Monday’s deaths.  The crash occurred at the corner of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue in the north end of the city, said Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray. 
A man who gave his name as Ali told CNN he saw the van and that the driver appeared to have been targeting people. 
“This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody,” the man said. “He kept going, he kept going. People were getting hit, one after another.” 
He said a number of the victims were older people and at one point he saw a stroller fly into the air.  
At least one person was struck outside on the sidewalk outside an Anglican church, north of where the van came to rest in front of a currency exchange in a condominium tower. 
Yonge Street is large, divided boulevard at the point where the incident occurred, its center meridian dotted with planter boxes and sculptures. 
Some of the victims were struck in a public square popular with office workers on lunch breaks. Aerial photos of the scene posted on social media showed a food truck parked just a few feet away from where emergency workers busily transferred people onto stretchers. 
There was no noticeable change in security around the Intercontinental Hotel where the ministers of Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan were meeting on Monday. 
Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Allison Martell in Toronto; Additional reporting by Jim Finkle, Nichola Saminather, Carlo Allegri and Julie Gordon; Writing by Andrea Hopkins and Scott Malone; Editing by Grant McCool

March 12, 2018

#Love Wins Concert Cancelled in Toronto Due to The Mourning For All The Gay Men Killed

Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch 
TORONTO — A critic of an event billed as “part vigil, part celebration” in the wake of the arrest of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur said she’s relieved that the event is being postponed.
Sara Malabar said it was a “good step” for organizers to reconsider the event, which was presented as an uplifting alternative to a number of somber vigils held by Toronto’s LGBTQ community, though some said it was too soon for a celebration.
The free concert called #LoveWins was set to take place on March 29 with a lineup that included Carole Pope and members of the Barenaked Ladies.
The poster advertising the event did not mention McArthur by name, but referenced “the series of killings that have rocked Toronto’s LGBTQ community.” The 66-year-old landscaper is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths and disappearances of six men with links to the city’s gay community.

 Accused serial Bruce McArthur

On Saturday, a statement on Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam’s website announced that the event would be postponed so organizers could address concerns raised by community members, who called the event tone-deaf.

 “Our intention was to bring the city together in love and healing after hearing from many people who wanted to come together in unity and strength,” read the statement.
“Unfortunately, the event created an unintentional division at a historic time in the LGBTQ2S community.”
Malabar, who started a “Stop #LoveWins Concert” page on Facebook, said the announcement was appreciated by members of the community who thought it was inappropriate to have a celebration while police are still finding more alleged victims of McArthur.
“I’m taking it as good news that they’re reconsidering the approach,” said Malabar, who previously produced the opening and closing ceremonies of WorldPride, an event that promotes LGBTQ issues.
She also offered to help in creating a more appropriate event.
“The fact that the organizers are willing to postpone the event and speak with the community and create the event they originally intended to create is a good step.”
Malabar said the event should still focus primarily on healing, adding that city staff should use the opportunity to offer much needed mental health support for Toronto’s LGBTQ community.
She said she hopes that the majority of the performers at the event will be LGBTQ themselves.
The statement on Wong-Tam’s website said organizers welcome any dialogue and apologized to people involved in planning the event who might be disappointed.
“For the many who expressed support and enthusiasm for the concert, and gave freely of their time and talent to its organizing, we sincerely apologize for this disappointment,” read the statement.
Malabar said she’ll be meeting with Wong-Tam and event organizers soon to discuss changes to the event.

February 13, 2018

LGBT Community Seek Answers on the Serial Murders in Toronto

(CNN)Toronto, grappling with shock and grief, is slated to host two vigils this week to mourn the victims of accused serial killer Bruce McArthur.

A multifaith vigil is scheduled for Monday night, while more than a dozen groups -- including The 519, an LGBT group -- are organizing a Tuesday event after it was reported that members of the city's gay community were among McArthur's five alleged targets.

"The issues we face today are unfortunately not new and touch many marginalized and vulnerable communities," according to the event's description. "We welcome everyone to join us to grieve together, heal together, and rise together." 

The Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto held a February 4 candlelight prayer vigil for victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur.

Police defend efforts in LGBT community

LGBT advocates are questioning whether police did enough to investigate the cases of missing men, as one of the victims went missing in 2012.
"This is, of course, a terrible tragedy, but not the first time the LGBTQ (community) has lost lives and members of the community have been missing," said Soofia Mahmood of The 519.
close dialog  

"The community has been victim to systemic abuse over the years, particularly people of color in our community. There is need to expect and demand accountability, from police and other groups who stereotype members of the community," Mahmood said. "But now, there is a need for solidarity in the community. We need to come together to celebrate the community and heal together."

Bruce McArthur stands charged with five counts of murder.

Toronto Police Service spokeswoman Meaghan Gray acknowledged the fraught relationship between police and the city's LGBT community and said the community's concerns are "front and center" in the minds of investigators.

"We are trying to provide as much information as we get it to members of the community without divulging information that might jeopardize the investigation. We know they are struggling, in light of the incident, and we know our relationship has ebbed and flowed over the years with the community," Gray said.

Asked specifically about the LGBT community's concerns that police didn't do enough to solve the cases of men who went missing from Toronto's Gay Village neighborhood, Gray said the allegation is "simply not true," pointing to the creation of a Project Houston task force dedicated to investigating the disappearances.

Frozen ground and potted plants may hold evidence of Toronto serial killer

Frozen ground and potted plants may hold evidence of Toronto serial killer
"We created that task force so we could dedicated additional resources to help find those men," she said. "We took those disappearances very seriously and tried to resolve those cases as quickly as possible."

Toronto police have assigned a constable to liaison with the LGBT community and attend both vigils this week, Gray said. In addition, a gender-neutral bathroom has been added to police headquarters, police raised a transgender pride flag on November's Transgender Day of Remembrance and pride flags have flown over headquarters during LGBT festivities.

Police Chief Mark Saunders has publicly apologized for 1981 raids on gay bathhouses, while the police force's Community Consultative Committee has added transgender members and developed a crime-reporting guide for the trans commmunity.

"We know violence against trans people is largely underreported," Gray said. "We are working with the trans community to build trust, and to encourage reporting for crimes against trans people."

Bruce McArthur in custody 

Police: Man buried victims in potted plants 01:29
McArthur, a 66-year-old landscaper, has been charged with five counts of murder and accused of hiding his victims' remains in potted plants around Toronto.

Investigators on Monday continued to excavate the property where the remains of six people were recovered, a task complicated by the frozen ground, which requires thawing before police can continue digging, Gray said.

The cadaver dogs brought in to assist with the search operation are succumbing to fatigue, she said.
"Dogs need to rest, so we've asked other services to bring in dogs to help facilitate the process of searching the multiple properties," Gray said.

McArthur was first arrested January 18 and charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Selim Esen, 44, who both went missing last year.
About a month before McArthur's arrest the Toronto Police said there was no proof that Esen and Kinsman's cases were related or that a serial killer was on the loose.

Police say he's a serial killer who buried his victims' remains in potted plants 
Police say he's a serial killer who buried his victims' remains in potted plants

After McArthur was charged, police recovered human remains and evidence in potted plants on properties where he had worked. On January 29, McArthur was charged with three more counts of murder for the killings of Majeed Kayhan, 58, Dean Lisowick, 47, and Soroush Mahmudi, 50.
The killer had relationships with each of his male victims, some of which were sexual, Gray said Friday. Police said both Esen and Kinsman were active on dating apps.

Investigators have recovered the remains of at least six people on a property linked to McArthur. One has been identified as belonging to Kinsman. The five others remain unidentified.
McArthur's attorney, Edward Royale, told CNN on Monday he would not be commenting on the case.
Who are the victims?

The five victims have been identified as, from top left, Majeed Kayhan, 58; Dean Lisowick, 47; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; Selim Esen, 44 and Andrew Kinsman, 49, according to Toronto Police Service.

The five victims have been identified as, from top left, Majeed Kayhan, 58; Dean Lisowick, 47; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; Selim Esen, 44 and Andrew Kinsman, 49, according to Toronto Police Service.

The five victims have been identified as, from top left, Majeed Kayhan, 58; Dean Lisowick, 47; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; Selim Esen, 44 and Andrew Kinsman, 49, according to Toronto Police Service.

Joan Anderson, who worked with Kinsman, said he was last seen June 26, the day after Pride Sunday. Anderson said news of his death was "very hard to hear."

"The fact that the investigation involves a serial killer has meant shock in addition to grief and has broad impact in the LGBTQ communities and across the network of HIV agencies and volunteers," Anderson told CNN via email.

She and Kinsman had worked together at the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network. Kinsman was also a contract staffer and long-term volunteer at the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.

"A wonderful wicked sense of humour, he would get frustrated and angry too -- anger at hypocrisy, pettiness, meanness and injustice. Andrew had fire and gentleness," said a statement from both organizations.

Phoenix police: Serial killer murdered seven people

Phoenix police: Serial killer murdered seven people 02:08
Esen had no fixed address, and often had a small plastic suitcase on wheels, police said. He was reported missing in April.

Kinsman and Esen's disappearances sparked alarm within Toronto's LGBTQ community and a meeting was held to discuss those concerns, reported CNN partner CBC. Their cases, along with those of other missing people, had made activists suspicious there could be a killer targeting the community, reported the CBC.

Kayhan was reported missing in October 2012. He was among the men who disappeared from the Gay Village between 2010 and 2012, and was the focus of a police investigation, reported the CBC.
Lisowick was never reported missing, but authorities believe he was murdered sometime between May 2016 and July 2017. He had been a resident of Toronto's shelter system, and had no fixed address. A memorial service is being held for him Tuesday.
Mahmudi was reported missing by his family in August 2015.

By Madison Park and Eric Levenson, CNN

CNN's Chuck Johnston, Tony Marco and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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January 27, 2018

Meet Bruce 66, Facing Murder Charges on Toronto's Gay Village

Accused killer Bruce McArthur was a mall Santa. Photos via Facebook

One week after news broke that police had arrested and charged Bruce McArthur with the alleged murders of two men who vanished from Toronto’s Gay Village, more details have emerged about the accused killers' past and his family, including a previous conviction for assault by McArthur and criminal charges and convictions for his son, Todd.

Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old Toronto resident, is facing two counts of first-degree murder in the cases of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, who vanished from Toronto’s Church and Wellesley area last year. Police believe there are more victims. 

After he was convicted in 2003 for assaulting a man with a metal pipe, McArthur received a conditional sentence that included being banned from an area that included The Village and prohibited from spending time with “male prostitutes” as part of his sentence, the Toronto Star reported on Wednesday. He was also ordered to provide a DNA sample to be added to a police database.

McArthur’s son Todd is facing charges of his own for criminal harassment, indecent phone calls, and breaching probation, and has a long history of similar convictions in Oshawa, according to court documents obtained by VICE News.


Between November 2015 and February 2016, Todd McArthur “with intent to alarm” made indecent communications towards an Oshawa woman and criminally harassed her.

Todd McArthur, who is out on bail pending his most recent harassment charges, is listed as living at the same Thorncliffe apartment as his father, according to bail documents. Bruce McArthur, along with his ex-wife Janice McArthur, is also listed as a surety for Todd, despite his previous conviction.

“A criminal record isn’t an automatic bar to acting as a surety,” Toronto-based criminal lawyer Daniel Brown told VICE News. “But it’s something that may be concerning to a judge when they’re deciding whether or not that person is suitable.”

The nature of the criminal history and how recent it is would be taken into account explained Brown, who isn’t connected to the case. 

Bruce McArthur’s assault conviction is the type of offense that “would normally disqualify a person from as a surety for someone else,” said Brown. “It may be the judge wasn’t aware of that.”

In 2014, Todd was sentenced to 17 months in jail after he targeted a Kitchener woman for two months, harassing with crude sexual remarks, including about her relationship with her wife, and whispering her name before she could hang up, the Waterloo Record reported at the time.

Court documents show Todd, 36, also threatened to post naked photos of the victim, who VICE News has chosen not to identify. The victim has since separated from her partner at the time and moved to Alberta. Her current partner told VICE News over the text message that the victim “lives in fear” and had to change her name at work following Todd’s threats. 

Todd McArthur has more than two dozen convictions in Oshawa, according to The Record — all for harassing calls, indecent calls, and criminal harassment that involves awareness of provoking fear.

McArthur has been diagnosed “telephone scatalogia,” according to The Record. The disorder is characterized by an intense urge to make obscene phone calls.


Before Bruce McArthur’s Facebook page was deactivated last week, he was listed as being friends with Skandaraj ‘Skanda’ Navaratnam, the first of three gay men to disappear from The Village between 2010 and 2012. 

According to a friend, Bruce McArthur and ‘Skanda’ began dating in 1999, as first reported by Daily Xtra. Jean-Guy Cloutier, who reported Navaratnam missing in 2010 and describes him as his “best friend,” told VICE News that his friend introduced him to McArthur in 2008 or 2009.

Police had said McArthur was not a suspect during Project Houston, an 18-month-long investigation into earlier disappearances of Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Majeed Kayhan —all from the same area of the city.

Now they’re open to investigating any links between McArthur and those disappearances.

Bruce McArthur is expected back in Toronto court on February 14.

With files from Justin Ling and Rachel Browne

This posting was reported on VICE news

McArthur's dating profile. Screenshot via

January 21, 2018

Arrest of Murder Suspects of Gay Men at Gay Village Bring The Police Role into Question

 GayVillage, Toronto

 By Friday morning, McArthur's Facebook page had been removed.The man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the disappearances of two men from Toronto’s gay village made his first appearance in a Toronto courtroom Friday morning. Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old landscaper, will remain in custody until his next court appearance on February 14. 

There is a publication ban on evidence presented in court.

The Toronto Police announced on Thursday that McArthur had been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen who went missing last summer from Toronto’s gay village at Church and Wellesley streets.

The Toronto Police said an investigation into other possible victims is ongoing. It has fuelled longstanding fears in Toronto’s gay community that a serial killer was targeting men in the village.

A number of Kinsman’s friends and those he worked with as a volunteer at the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation were present at the hearing.

“Everyone is traumatized,” John Allan, an acquaintance of Kinsman’s, said at the courthouse.

“I hope that [McArthur] talks and tells what he did,” said Alphonso King, who also knew Kinsman.

Kinsman’s sister, Patricia, told reporters she plans to be at every one of McArthur’s hearings. She told CBC News that she had never heard of McArthur prior to his arrest.

While the police have so far refused to release a photo and confirm the identity of McArthur, images from his Facebook page were widely circulated by media outlets Thursday evening.

Bruce McArthur also appears on, a gay dating website. The description on that site matches the details on McArthur released by police, including his age and that McArthur owned a landscaping business. 

Some Facebook photos show him as a mall, Santa Claus. In others, he’s shown with family, friends, and at a Toronto Pride celebration among York Regional Police officers.

McArthur is shown in a number of photos with an Iranian man from 2014 to 2017. It's unclear what their relationship was, however they appeared to have traveled together, and he was also featured in family photos. After news of McArthur's arrest, a number of Facebook users questioned the current whereabouts of the man — who had listed Morneau Shepell as his employer on his own Facebook page. That detail had been removed from his Facebook page by Friday morning.

A spokesperson for Morneau Shepell confirmed to VICE News on Friday that the man had given the company permission to the confirmation that he worked there. The man did not immediately respond to messages from VICE News on Facebook or by email.

By Friday morning, McArthur's Facebook page had been taken down.

Police are investigating five properties in Ontario they say are “associated with” McArthur, including four in Toronto and one in Madoc, a town between Toronto and Ottawa. Local news reported late Thursday night that Ontario Provincial Police officers were searching a property in Madoc, however, the Toronto Police said they would not confirm this, and that “investigators have nothing new to add today and will not be commenting or confirming any details that have been reported in the media.” 

Esen and Kinsman are just two of a series of disappearances that have taken place in Toronto’s Gay Village since 2010.

In October, Toronto police formed a task force called project called Project Prism to investigate cases of people who have gone missing from the community, including Esen and Kinsmen. Project Prism followed an 18-month-long probe called Project Houston, which investigated the disappearances of three other gay men from 2010 to 2012 but failed to find out what happened to them.



Andrew Kinsman, left, and Selim Esen, right, have both gone missing in recent months, prompting community concern and the allocation of dedicated police resources. (Toronto Police Service)

The arrest and first-degree murder charges of a suspect in the case of two men who disappeared from downtown Toronto have provided some sense of relief in the city's Gay Village but raised questions and criticisms about how police handled the investigation.

"I sort of feel like the police department has egg on their face because we told them a while ago that we felt that it was a serial killer and we also felt as though there was a connection between the people who were missing," Alphonso King, a community resident, and friend of victim Andrew Kinsman, told CBC News.
"I think it's important that they understand that when a community speaks up and says 'We think that something is going on here' — listen." 
Police established Project Prism to investigate the disappearances of Kinsman and Selim Esen. Kinsman, 49, went missing from Toronto's Cabbagetown neighborhood in June, while Esen, 44, was last seen in the Yonge and Bloor area last April. Both areas are close to the predominantly gay neighborhood of Church and Wellesley.
Project Prism was also created to share information with Project Houston, another task force looking into the 2012 disappearances of three other men in the Church and Wellesley area. 

'Never saw any police'

But King suggested the community felt abandoned by police, that they were more concerned about photo ops than actually "looking after our community and making sure that we're safe."
"I didn't notice any more presence in the village after we expressed concerns. You would have thought that there would have been more people on patrol and more people walking about. But I never saw any police," he said.
On Thursday, Toronto police announced they had a suspect in custody,  Bruce McArthur, 66, of Toronto, who they allege was responsible for the deaths of Kinsman and Esen.  
However, police also indicated that McArthur was tied to other victims who have yet to be identified.

Jesse Calleya said he believes the police were taking the investigation seriously, but that they weren't keeping the community updated on its progress. (Mark Gollom/CBC News)
It seemed like an about-face for the police, who last December held a news conference in which they attempted to assuage any fears that a serial killer may be loose in the community.
On Thursday, when asked about the previous comments denying the presence of a serial killer, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said: "In policing, what we do is we follow the evidence, and what I said at the time ... was accurate at that time." 
Those comments though provided little comfort to community activists like Nicki Ward, who said they had pushed police to acknowledge the missing person status of those who had disappeared. 
"We are validated in our concerns but there's no joy to be had in that," said Ward, director of the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association. "Why weren't we listened to earlier? Perhaps some lives could have been saved if that was the case."
The disappearances had rattled many members of the Gay Village, who were told by community leaders to be cautious when going out. Posters about the missing men have been plastered all over the neighborhood, while community members launched social media sites to keep a focus on the issue.

'A lot of tension'

"There was a lot of tension, a lot of people looking over their shoulder," said Jesse Calleya, a barber at The Men's Room. "Everybody would walk home together or take an Uber together just because you never knew. A lot of people were just buddying up.
"And now they have somebody in custody. I feel there's been a lot of weight lifted off the shoulders of people in the community."

Community resident Raj Kalang praised police for their efforts in the case/ (Mark Gollom/CBC News)
Calleya said he believes police were taking the investigation seriously, but that they weren't keeping the community updated on its progress.
"The people in the community felt like they were being abandoned and felt like nothing was happening."
However, community resident Raj Kalang had nothing but praise for the police.
"It's not easy to track down all these things. I think they did the best."

'A great job'

Michael Sunley, who also lives in the neighborhood, said police "have done a great job.

Sunley's partner, Paul Hyde, left and Mike Sunley, right, said they were confident in the police's abilities to arrest a suspect. (Mark Gollom/CBC)
"I acknowledge and recognize when police are doing their job, they can't tell you everything," he said. "Because if you compromise the investigation, that's a bigger problem than sharing everything with the public."
Sunley's partner, Paul Hyde, agreed.
"Ultimately we always felt confident someone would get caught."

November 15, 2016

Toronto Police Going Undercover to Arrest Men on Men Sex

Marie Curtis Park. Photo via Flickr user Gary J. Wood

 Less than six months after Toronto police officially apologized for the 1981 bathhouse raids that targeted gay men, the cops have charged dozens of consenting adult men for having sex at a local park. 

A couple months ago, the cops undertook undercover operation Project Marie at Etobicoke's Marie Curtis Park in response to community complaints about indecent exposure and an alleged sexual assault. As a result of the investigation, through which "a number" of plain-clothed male officers hung out in the park and at times were solicited for sex, a total of 89 charges have been laid against 72 people, mostly men, according to police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray.

Very few of the charges are criminal in nature.

The majority relate to bylaw infractions and provincial offences, including 36 for engaging in sexual behaviour in a park and 33 for trespassing property. Gray said the men charged were primarily consenting adults. 

Though the charges are minor in a legal sense, they have the potential to ruin lives, according to LGBT lawyers who say the investigation is a gross overreaction by police.

"Toronto police sent undercover police officers into the bushes to wait for men to proposition them for sex so they could arrest them. In 2016," Marcus McCann, a gay Toronto-based human rights lawyer, told VICE.

"That is unacceptable."

In response to news of the operation, McCann and ten other lawyers have stepped up to offer free legal help to the men who've been charged. He said it's likely that some will plead guilty and pay their fines—which can be hundreds of dollars—rather than risk exposing themselves publicly by fighting the charges.

"There have been crackdowns on men who have sex with men in the various locations they do it for 40 years or more," said McCann. "We know for that population these kinds of charges can have very severe consequences around shame and stigma, the risk of outing, there can be employment consequences, family consequences. Something that's a fairly minor bylaw infraction has the potential to really, really disrupt lives for these men and their families."

He said depression and suicidal ideation are also potential outcomes.

Const. Kevin Ward, one of the officers who went undercover, told the Etobicoke Guardian cops aren't planning on easing up on their crackdown.

"I want anyone engaging in these illegitimate activities to know that this is no longer a safe place for this to happen. We are going to be at the park every day and we will not be tolerating it," he said.

However, some are questioning the allocation of police resources on something that didn't net many criminal charges.

"It's basically like a very expensive sting operation for jaywalking," said McCann. He noted that while police have publicly spoken about reports of men who exposed themselves to children in relation to Project Marie, child sex predators aren't who they targeted by using adult undercover officers. 

"I think the Toronto police conflation of men who have sex with men with pedophilia is truly, truly troubling." 

Gray said she could not disclose how much the police spent on Project Marie. She also couldn't say how many community complaints cops received or if there's been a spike in sexual activity at Marie Curtis Park.

She said the initiative wasn't meant to target gay men.

"We don't know the sexual orientation of any of the men who were involved, nor does it matter quite frankly," she said. "These people were engaged in behaviour that was against the law."

McCann said cops should have used a public education campaign, similar to the one they rolled out to curb drinking at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Gray said police started with that tactic, increasing their uniformed presence at the park and explaining to people what behaviour is and isn't acceptable.

Kyle Kirkup, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said for members of the LGBT community, the operation is reminiscent of the bathhouse raids.

"People may not be out to their families. To have the police kind of force them out of the closet in this way, I think the consequences are going to be really devastating," he told VICE

Kirkup, who identifies as gay, pointed to the controversy that followed Toronto's Pride Parade this past summer, when Black Lives Matter demanded that cops no longer have an institutional presence in future marches.

"I think moments like this community members think, Wow, if this is the way they're governing themselves in 2016, perhaps it's unacceptable to have the police in the parade."

He said a better approach would have been to reach out to LGBT community groups and work together to resolve the issue.

Police are planning a “Walk the Beat" event at the park on Saturday, to discuss the issue with community members.

 Manisha Krishnan       By Manisha Krishnan
Senior Writer
  This a post from vice and posted here without edits or changes.

June 23, 2016

Toronto Police Chief to Make Apology for Raids at Gay Baths in 1981


Toronto’s police chief is set to make a historic apology on Wednesday for a string of raids on gay bathhouses in 1981 – a watershed for gay rights in Canada and the catalyst for Toronto’s annual pride parade which is now one of the biggest celebrations of its kind in the world.

On 5 February 1981, 286 men were arrested on charges of prostitution and indecency when uniformed and plainclothes police officers stormed four of the largest gay bathhouses in the city.

It remains one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history, but the raids are now better remembered as the country’s equivalent to the Stonewall riots.

“Gay people realized that they had to band together, they had to get political, and they had to stand up for their rights,” said Ron Rosenes, who was 33 when he was arrested at the Romans II bathhouse that night.

“I was alone in my room when all of a sudden all hell broke loose,” he told the Guardian. “I heard the police knocking on doors and they came to my door and basically bashed it in. And I was brusquely and roughly escorted to the front of the building.”

He was handed a summons to appear in court, and allowed to dress and go home, but still remembers it as a traumatic experience.

Most charges under the country’s “bawdy house” laws were later either dropped or dismissed, but many of the men outed by the police that night had their lives ruined, Rosenes said.

“I had it easier than a lot of the men who weren’t out of the closet, weren’t supported by friends and family like me, and who were at other bathhouses where there was a lot more violence,” he said.

Widely perceived as a deliberate attempt by police to silence gay activism in Toronto, the raids instead galvanized the gay community and its allies.

Around 3,000 protesters took to the streets the next night in a hastily organized protest against the arrests and police harassment.

Ken Popert, who at the time worked for the now defunct gay newspaper the Body Politic, said the raids marked a turning point for what had previously been a fractured community.
“I was actually dreading going to the demonstration that night because I was expecting the usual bedraggled 150 familiar faces,” he said. “But when I arrived there were already a thousand people there – the sidewalks were overflowing.”

Toronto’s police chief, Mark Saunders, is expected to apologize to the city’s LGBT community in a speech on Wednesday afternoon.

Dennis Findlay, president of the Gay and Lesbian Archives, was among a group of activists who approached Saunders a few months ago suggesting the police apologize.

“It’s long overdue but it is most appropriate,” he said.

But Findlay said Wednesday’s apology is just a first step in improving the force’s relationship with marginalized communities throughout Canada’s largest city.

“How do they deal with the trans community? How do they deal with the black community? How do they deal with the aboriginal community? That’s the shortlist,” he said.

“They have to start working with the communities who are minorities within our society, work with them on how to move forward so they don’t continue to make these stupid mistakes.”

Saunders is also expected to apologize for a raid in 2000 by several police officers on an all-female bathhouse event, which led to an Ontario Human Rights Commission settlement in 2005 that included sensitivity training for all Toronto police officers on gay and lesbian issues.

Canada decriminalized homosexuality in 1969, but it was only in 1996 the country’s LGBT community gained federal protection against discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Ontario added sexual orientation to its human rights code in 1986.

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