Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders will apologize for the raids on four gay bathhouses across the city 35 years ago, CBC News has confirmed.
Saunders is set to make the apology on behalf of his force on Wednesday.
Nearly 300 men who owned or were patrons of the bathhouses were arrested on Feb. 5, 1981, and major damage was done to some of the premises.
The raids galvanized Toronto’s gay community, which then organized a series of protests, and led to the city’s first Toronto Pride event later that year, on June 28.
Police bathhouse raid apology prompts mixed feelings in Toronto LGBT community
‘If it weren’t for the raids, Pride wouldn’t have happened,’ man who came out after raids says
When Ron Rosenes first heard about the fatal mass shooting at Orlando’s gay nightclub Pulse, his mind flashed immediately back to 1981, when he and hundreds of other gay men in Toronto bathhouses found themselves rounded up and arrested by police.
“It was incredibly scary,” Rosenes told CBC News. “We thought this was a safe place just like the LGBT people in Orlando thought that they were in safe place.”
On Tuesday, 35 years after that frightening night, Chief Mark Saunders announced that the Toronto Police Service would apologize for the raids that saw 160 officers arrest 286 men and sparked a firestorm of protests, leaving a gaping wound between police and the LGBT community that has yet to fully heal.
Aftermath of the Toronto bathhouse raids
See CBC Archive Here: http://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/the-toronto-bathhouse-raids#DVP