Earlier this month I wrote a blog about how I thought the Black Lives Matter group went too far with their participation / disruption / protest during Pride Toronto. Black Lives Matter Claims Victory After Halting Toronto Pride Parade and Pride Toronto Will Not Meet Demands From Black Lives Matter were two of my most read blogs that week.
Then Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Dallas happened. I felt like I was an evil person for feeling that BLM had no right to protest during a Pride parade. I felt sick and thought many times that I should write some kind of retraction, but I didn't. I didn't because once the shock of Sterling, Castile, Dallas lessened, I still felt the same way about Toronto.
There's a lot of feelings and thoughts about how BLM and Pride should or should not go hand-in-hand. There's a lot of judgment thrown at BLM – 'this is how you should protest' and 'wtf are you doing protesting during a parade of fellow hate crime sufferers?' We all have the right answers and none of us are correct.
The Vancouver Pride parade is scheduled to be held on July 31. Will we see the same issues, concerns, demands, actions, as we did in Toronto?
Black Lives Matter Vancouver issued an open letter today (July 15) to the Vancouver Police Department and the Vancouver Pride Society.
Regarding police involvement in Vancouver's parade, the Vancouver Pride Society stated:
"We…know that our events like the Pride Parade…would not be possible without the support of our partners, including law enforcement. Vancouver Pride has not had requests from any organization to see police excluded from our events and we will continue working with police to educate and include them in ways that are appropriate. We understand that this may create barriers for some members of our community who feel they cannot access our events."
However, in an open letter addressed to both the VPS and the Vancouver Police Department, BLM-Vancouver stated that the VPS did not contact them directly.
In the letter, BLM-Vancouver explained that they "cannot divorce the policing institution from its historical and continued violence against Indigenous and PoC communities, racial profiling, or inaction around our missing Indigenous women".
BLM-Vancouver announced that they will not participate in the Vancouver Pride parade "because we feel that Pride no longer represents community action, resistance and revolution but also as an act of solidarity with BLM chapters across North America to whom Pride parades have been made inaccessible. We wholeheartedly support the actions of other BLM chapters such as BLM Toronto and BLM San Francisco and although we may not face the same immediate threats of police brutality, we refuse to participate in the whitewashing, armament and exclusivity of any Pride Parade unless concrete and explicit commitments to the contrary are made. The Pride Parade stems from the Stonewall Riots of 1969, led by trans and queer PoCs [people of colour] against police raids on the establishment. Police raids on bathhouses were commonplace in Toronto until 1981 and the ensuing riots were the roots of Toronto’s own Parade."
While BLM-Vancouver accepts police presence to perform civil services, they object to the VPD participating in the parade.
"Having the Vancouver Police Department on the ground to perform a civil service is understandable," they wrote. "Having the institution participate on a float in the organized festivities of the actual parade is inappropriate and insulting to those who came before us to make Pride celebrations possible, some of who even died for the cause. Embracing the institution in an event that originates from protest against its actions makes us justifiably uncomfortable." – the georgia straight
I guess I am still on my side of the fence when it comes to this BLM – Pride – Police issue. If we disliked every group IN GENERAL that hated us, we should not allow ANY church groups no matter if they allow us to get married or not, we should not allow any parent groups like PFLAG since so many homeless LGBT youths are there because they were thrown out of their homes and out onto the streets, we should not let any sports groups march, no media groups, no government groups or politicians to march in any pride parade since so many laws are out there to hurt us, not help us, and we can still be fired for being gay. Members of these groups have hated us for being who we are, pushed us out, ridiculed us, disowned us, and wrote laws against us before and some still do today.
Consequently, BLM-Vancouver is asking the VPD to "voluntarily withdraw from marching in the Parade itself as a show of solidarity and understanding as to why participation in this particular manner perpetuates an unsafe atmosphere for the very same Indigenous, POC and Black communities the Vancouver Pride Society has committed to intentionally include."
However, their proposed solution is to replace a VPD-only float with a public-service float.
"We propose that a representative public service float, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and others replaces the police-only float. This would still include officers who would like to participate. The float would no longer represent the police force as an institution that has been and remains fundamental to the perpetuation of structural violence against Black and brown bodies in North America." – the georgia straight
For the full article head over to Craig Takeuchi's report in The Georgia Straight. There's more from the BLM letter and the issue of a military vehicle being in the parade.
Why is a group like BLM being invited to Pride parades? Do you support the BLM movement being invited?
Do you support the BLM actions at Pride Toronto?
Do you support the idea that police should not have a 'float' or march in a pride parade?
Do you agree that a public service float is a good compromise?