Controversy Over Police Floats Being Banned from Toronto Pride 2017
No pride for gay police officers
After a lively discussion on Tuesday, January 19, 2017; Pride Toronto members have voted to remove police floats and marches from their annual parade.
The Tuesday night meeting, which was originally supposed to centre around the topics of financing and electing five new board members is now getting a lot of attention for its decision to exclude the police. The meetings original agenda was sidelined when an item that was added to address a list of demands presented by the group Black Lives Matter (BLM) during their protest at last year’s parade was brought up for discussion. The BLM protest delayed the beginning of the 2016 parade by almost 30 minutes until Pride Toronto agreed to, and signed, their list of demands.
no advertent police presence during the Pride parade
While speaking with CityNews on Wednesday, pride Toronto board member Sarah Cooper addressed the decision by saying “What we don’t want to see and what the community made very clear last night was no advertent police presence during the Pride parade…and it’s our responsibility to adhere to that.”
Cooper also made sure to add that “queer police officers and trans police officers can march under the banner of community groups,” but won’t be able to have their own floats or contingents at the annual event.
Black Lives Matter organizer, Hashim Yussuf, expressed that a clear message was being sent by the vote when commenting on the decision.
Black Lives Matter but gay police lives don't?
“Obviously there’s mandatory police for security and things like that…but we just didn’t want police inside the parade itself,” he said. “We believe the police as an organization, as an institution, have been very homophobic and racist to the community members within Pride Toronto.”
Yussuf also dismissed the notion that the ban goes against the principle of inclusion that is at the core of Pride by saying that, “Banning the police is not being exclusive at all. The police are exclusive towards many different minority communities.”
Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way and the decision has upset a lot of long time Pride supporters and participants. Even though Pride ultimately has the right to make this decision, Pride does not automatically have a right to the almost $1million in public money that it receives annually from the city in grants as well as in-kind policing and city services. This has people asking if city hall would give this kind of financial aid to any other organization that banned police participation from their event.
be the change
A petition on change.org asking Pride Toronto to reverse their decision has already collected over 7000 signatures. Toronto Mayor John Tory released a statement the Wednesday following Pride Toronto’s decision to ban the police that addressed how important he felt inclusion in the parade and the need to foster respect was.
“The Toronto Police have had a presence in the Pride parade for more than a decade and continue to make meaningful efforts to build bridges with the LGBTQ2S community,” he said in his statement. “With respect to police participation in the Pride parade, I am hopeful that people of goodwill can find a way to resolve this issue and to ensure that we can continue to build those vitally important bridges.”
In a heartfelt letter to CityNews, openly gay Toronto police officer Chuck Krangle addressed his concerns with Pride’s recent agreement with BLM states that, “Police officers are significantly represented in the LGBTQ community and it would be unacceptable to alienate and discriminate against them and those who support them. They too struggled to gain a place and workplace free from discrimination and bias.”
Officer Krangle’s letter also describes what the 2016 pride parade meant to him personally and how it opened his eyes to the unwavering support he has received from his peers and supervisors, ending his letter by simply stating that “Exclusion does not promote inclusion.”
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