Constable Kevin Ward said last week that the sting was not designed to go after gay men
Sting likened to bathhouse raids of the 80s
The Toronto police decided to hold a sting, which they called Project Marie, where they solicited sex with people to find those who were having sex in a Toronto park. Police patrolled the park, in plain clothes, and made arrests on the scene.
Let that sink in.
Toronto spokesperson Meghan Gray said that the police say they have been receiving complaints from residents about sex acts happening at Marie Curtis Park in Etobicoke, at all times of day, where the sting took place.
Of the 72 people arrested, the majority being men, were mostly charged with public exposure and engaging in sexual activity. Lawyers have come forward to defend those caught up in this kerfuffle, offering free legal counsel. Marcus McCann, one of ten lawyers offering his services, says the Toronto Police reaction to the resident’s complaints was out of hand and expensive.
On Metro Morning, he was quoted as saying: “The Toronto police reaction was out of proportion to the complaints. Especially the use of an undercover sting, which is expensive and time consuming.”
McCann also said that the way the Toronto Police deal with incidents involving gay men differs from that of those who might drink alcohol in public parks. “City council and the police engaged in public education about shared space,” he says of the Trinity Bellwoods Park drinking incident. “It was a kind of a harm reduction technique. It’s curious to me that when it comes to gay men meeting in the park, we have an undercover sting operation and a very vicious crackdown.”
McCann is also concerned about the police suggestion that children are at risk. “These charges are about consenting adults, not children. Most of the people who were charged were charged with relatively minor bylaws or with trespassing,” he said.
Constable Kevin Ward said last week that the sting was not designed to go after gay men and that “whether its male or females being engaged in this activity, it’s not acceptable.”
Toronto spokesperson Meghan Gray says efforts are being made to restore the park back to a family-friendly hot spot, with a community event being held on Saturday November 19th which will include refreshments and activities for children.