Joey’s older brother Zev Rosenthal has experienced racial prejudice and intolerance for a few years now… and he’s had enough. Zev wants to fight back against the racist “Pit Gang” and “Swastika Club” thugs who are parading up and down the Beaches in Toronto and intimidating the Jewish community. He manages to convince his best friend Domenico to join in his efforts to fight back, by being “ready” for the Riot at the ballgame.
In the summer of 1933, the Jewish people of Toronto, much like the rest of the city, were visiting the beaches to stay cool during the hot days. At Kew Beach, groups inspired by Hitler and national socialism in Germany at the time, had joined together to create a “Swastika Club.”
The Toronto swastika clubs were created to intimidate and threaten those who were not of British descent. Members of these swastika clubs claimed to be “cleaning up” the beaches by attempting to remove the Jewish presence. Groups of both teenagers and adults wearing swastika badges would patrol the beaches and regularly harass Jewish people.
On August 7, 1933, this tension escalated into a confrontation at Kew Gardens. The constant harassment of Jewish bathers by the Swastika Club led to an altercation that almost resulted in a physical clash. The situation was de-escalated by police who were present at the time, however the same could not be said a week later at Christie Pits.
This dangerous increase of open antisemitism and clear support for Nazism in Toronto created a climate of fear for Jewish people in the city.