Bathhouse raids of 1981 had held the dubious distinction of being the largest mass arrest in Toronto’s history.
As Tanya Gulliver of Daily Xtra had written
Just before midnight on Feb 5, 1981, more than 150 police officers swept into four gay bathhouses — Club Baths, the Romans II Health And Recreation Spa, the Richmond Street Health Emporium and, for the second time in three years, the Barracks — arresting 286 men as found-ins in a common bawdy house, and 20 men as common bawdy-house keepers. It was the largest mass arrest since the invocation of the War Measures Act in 1970. The police purposely tried to humiliate and shame the gay men, making cracks about faggots and Vaseline. Wielding crowbars and hammers, the police busted things up big time; damage was so extreme at Richmond Street that it never reopened except as a temporary exhibit for those curious to see what police had done.
160 cops arrested 286 men in a well-planned raid on four Toronto bathhouses.
20 more were arrested as keepers of a bawdy house.
One night later, thousands upon thousands of gay men and their allies gather to protest. From that protest, the Gay Pride Parade in Toronto was born.
Now 30 years later that record has been shattered. More than 900 people were arrested in Toronto during G20 related protests.
Alas, records and meant to be broken.
To read Tanya Gulliver article go to Harnessed anger
Photo courtesy of Joshua Meles.