Vicious Gay Bashings As Police Chief Fetes Gay Community Blocks Away
by Jack Siu
Posted: June 25, 2003 11:42 a.m. ET
(Toronto, Ontario) As Toronto police chief Julian Fantino was praising the work of his force in making the city safe for gays and lesbians, four blocks away two gay men were attacked by masked thugs.
"The thing I am most proud of is that there is a great understanding between the police and the gay community," Fantino told several hundred people at his annual reception in the Gay Village to mark the beginning of Pride Week in Toronto.
At the same time, about 5:30 in the afternoon, in broad daylight, a man was taunted about being gay and beaten by a gang of men near Wellesley and Ontario Streets. Several hours later, as the chief's party was wrapping up, there was a second vicious swarming in the same area, which put one of three male cyclistsin hospital. The same attackers are suspected.
"We'll do our utmost to contribute to the quality of life, safety and security in the community in every respect and be conscientious about your needs and vulnerability," Fantino told the private reception for leaders of gay community.
Along with Fantino at the party were nearly a dozen other high ranking police officials. The chief was not told about the attacks until after he had left the reception.
Investigators said there were five men the five men involved in the first attack and the gang had swollen to about 10 in the second. The identities of the two victims have not been released. The first man attacked received only minor injuries. In the second case, the victim was beaten and hit with a shovel. He is listed in serious condition at Toronto General Hospital.
Police say they are pursuing the first attack as a hate crime, but because no homophobic epithets were used in the second, Det.-Sgt. Tom Russell, said it would be harder to prove as a hate motivated.