Toronto Pride Bans Police From Marching In Parade

Organizers cite tension with LGBT community, including mishandling of the Bruce McArthur serial killer case.

Police in Toronto have withdrawn their application to march in the 2018 Toronto Pride parade, ending efforts to appeal a rejection by parade organizers. Toronto Pride initially banned police from marching last year after Black Lives Matter demonstrators interrupted the parade to protest police brutality.

Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star

TORONTO, ON - JULY 7: Members of Black Lives Matter Toronto hold a press conference near Yonge and Wellesley Streets on to discuss the recent Pride Parade and Mayor John Tory's comments. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The call for a ban intensified in recent months as outrage grew over police’s handling of a serial killer case that claimed the lives of at least six gay men.

Bruce McArthur was arrested in January, accused of TK. Just week prior, though, police chief Mark Saunders insisted there was no evidence pointing to a serial killer into Toronto’s gay village. Saunders also suggested it was the fault of the LGBT community for not coming forward with information early enough.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star

TORONTO, ON- JULY 3 - Hamilton Police sported rainbow police flashes on their vests during the 2016 Toronto Pride parade along Yonge Street in Toronto. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

"What changed was Bruce McArthur, to be honest with you,” Pride Toronto executive director Olivia Nuamah told the CBC. “What changed was the re-emergence of that feeling, of that feeling of a lack of safety."

On Monday night, Pride Toronto called for police to withdraw their application. The next day, Saunders (below, center) complied.

Chris So/Toronto Star

Toronto, Ontario - JUNE 28, 2015 Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders takes part in the parade for Pride Toronto 2015. JUNE 28, 2015. (Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

“My hope is that this move will be received as a concrete example of the fact that I am listening closely to the community's concerns,” he said, “and I am committed thoroughly to building a better, stronger relationship between [police and the LGBT community.]”

Toronto Mayor John Tory acknowledged the difficult situation but said hoped discussions between cops and organizers continue. "I want everyone to be in Pride," he told reporters. But a rep for the Toronto Police’s union thinks he made the wrong call. "We think that this type of action drives a wedge deeper in the community and policing, and it's disappointing to our members."

Individual officers will still be allowed to participate in the parade if they leave their uniforms, cruisers and guns at home.

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