Rev. David Lynn and Toronto Police Officers

Incident at Toronto Gay Pride Parade demonstrates the potential for injustice that is imminent when government takes sides and acts apart from the law

(Posted by Shannon Lise on July 13, 2012)

Canada Day in Ontario this year was marked by a disturbing incident when Rev. David Lynn and a small group of friends attended the Toronto Gay Pride Parade. Setting up a small stand on a street corner with a microphone and a video camera, Lynn preached, held conversations with passers-by, and handed out Bibles and tracts – that is, until Toronto police wearing LGBT rainbow stickers shut him down and forced him to vacate the area. Ignoring the profanity and violent behavior of angry parade attendees and demonstrators who verbally assaulted the group and even doused Lynn and his cameraman with water, police told Lynn he was ‘promoting hate’ and must leave.

Despite Lynn repeatedly requesting to know what law he was violating and why he was being shut down, the police never quoted any relevant regulation or by-law and refused to explain their actions beyond insisting that Lynn was ‘causing a disturbance.’ Instead, some twelve officers surrounded the stand, assaulted the 17-year old cameraman, and yelled at the crowd to go away and stop listening to Lynn, refusing to let anyone near.  Video footage of the event shows one officer shouting, “Guys, everybody, by staying and listening to him you’re helping him get his message across. You ignore him and it all goes away.”

However, these same zealous would-be enforcers of laws that don't exist proved less than enthusiastic about dealing with the multiple displays of nudity going on at the same time in the surrounding area. Although public display of nudity is illegal according to the Canada Criminal Code, police apparently did not write a single ticket for nudity during the parade.

Whether or not preaching about the love of God at a Pride Parade is ‘promoting hate’ or being disrespectful may be up for debate, but it is not something for the Toronto police to decide. By choosing to ignore the illegal and disruptive conduct of parade participants and arbitrarily shutting the preacher down instead, the police have taken sides in a complicated national dispute that is beyond their jurisdiction. The police are supposed to enforce the law, not support the interests of a particular group at the expense of someone else' rights. Police officers are well within their rights to have whatever private sympathies they like, but if those sympathies are allowed to influence their decisions when they are acting in an official capacity, then they are just part of the angry crowd, with the difference that they are able to exploit their position in order to intimidate and coerce other people, especially the people they disagree with.

Let’s not forget that the police represent the government. The authority abused by the people who enforce the law can be just as easily abused by the people who make the law. The role of the government as a neutral arbiter of justice is undermined when the government refuses to protect everyone’s freedom equally. In Lynn’s words, ‘You’re here to defend my rights, too.’ But when the government takes sides, freedom is redefined to mean the freedom of whichever side the government is on, to the exclusion of the rest of society.

[You can watch the shocking footage of the incident in the three clips below. Please note that these clips feature a generous amount of uncensored profanity on the part of incensed Pride Parade attendees. Viewer discretion is advised.]

The first video clip shows the first ten minutes of the confrontation, ending when an angry officer snatches the camera from Rev. Lynn's cameraman.

This second clip shows what happened after the camera was restored to Lynn's camerman.
This clip, recorded by a third party, documents the officer's confiscation of the camera and the subsequent confrontation.

Angered and disturbed by what you've seen? Don't leave it at that! Utilize the contact information below and let the authorities in Toronto know that they overstepped their rightful authority.

Names and badge numbers of Toronto police officers identified by footage captured by Lynn’s cameraman:  

T. Adams, 9114
Staff Sergeant R. Pasini, 4528
D. Sinclair, 9678
D. Rubbini, 6346
M. Duffy, 1095


Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
Ph: (877) 411-4773
Complaint against police form

Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto

Office of the Mayor
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor,
100 Queen St. West,
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Ph: (416) 397-3673
E-mail: mayor_ford@toronto.ca



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