Toronto Pride Votes To Ban Police From Marching In Parade

“We don’t know what happened," said a police spokesperson.

Demonstrators interrupted Toronto Pride's annual meeting this week and convinced the group to capitulate to demands that police offers be banned from marching or participating in future Pride parades.

At the 2016 Toronto Pride parade on July 3, members of Black Lives Matter-Toronto stopped the march in its tracks with a half-hour sit-in.

Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2016/07/03: Members of Black Lives Matter sit and block the Pride Parade from the normal parade route. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It was a monumental event, with RuPaul, Joe Jonas, and Justin Trudeau in attendance—the first time a sitting prime minister has marched in a Pride parade. But the event stopped as Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois dialogued with BLM members. (Chantelois has since resigned his post.)

The procession was allowed to continue after Chantelois reportedly agreed to prioritize the hiring of black trans women and indigenous people, and to ban police floats and booths from Pride.

According to The Toronto Sun, a group of self-described “white butch dykes” interrupted Tuesday's agenda and demanded the issue be the first item addressed.

When chair tried to explained proper procedure wasn't being followed, protestors took their motion directly to the crowd of some 400 people, asking them to vote on a series of demands.

Among them was a ban on police having a parade contingent or booth, as well as committing more funds for black programming at Pride, and hiring more staff of color.

“It is disrespectful and problematic not to allow conversation about the racism inherent in Pride Toronto,” said BLM activist Gwen Bartleman (below) before the vote. “We should take the power back in our community. That’s reasonable and revolutionary.”

Told the meeting had been called to vote for new board members and go over last year's financials, protestors responded with shouts of “white privilege.”

While all the group's demands were met, it's the police ban that sticks in some people's craws.

“What we always tried to be clear about is that it is a discussion about the role of law enforcement in the Toronto Pride Parade and not a ban,” GlynWilliams told CTV News Toronto. “Perhaps a cavalcade of sirens and inmate buses and vehicles is not the most appropriate way to participate in the parade. Nowhere in what I just said is that it is not appropriate to participate.”

Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said the force is still committed to strengthening ties with the city's LGBT community, regardless of Tuesday's vote. (Mayor John Tory said he was hopeful "people of good will can find a way to resolve this issue and ensure we can continue to build those vitally important bridges.")

But given the unusual situation, it's not even clear whether the results of the vote will actually be enforced.

“We don’t know what happened," said Pugash."People can’t seem to agree on whether police were excluded or whether it has something to do with uniforms and guns.”

But it'll all be someone else's headache: GlynWilliams says a new executive director should be in place by the end of the month.

Still, the sometimes anxious intersection of BLM and Pride isn't unique to our neighbors to the north: Just days before Toronto Pride, BLM demonstrators complained about the inclusion of the Greater Philadelphia Gay Officers Action League as grand marshals in Philly Pride, leading GOAL to back out.

Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images

TORONTO, ON - JULY 3: Black Lives Matter Toronto hold a sit-in at Yonge Street and College Street that stalled Toronto's annual Pride Parade. (Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

And Black Lives Matter members dropped out of San Francisco Pride, where the organization was itself slated to be a grand marshal, when police presence was increased in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Members cited concerns over the SFPD’s “recent track record of racist scandal and killings of people of color.”

“As queer people of color, we are disproportionately targeted by both vigilante and police violence,” said Malkia Cyril. “We know firsthand that increasing the police presence at Pride does not increase safety for all people. Militarizing these events increases the potential for harm to our communities.”

After the Toronto sit-in, journalist Matt Thomas wrote how the issues the black LGBT community has with Pride and with police didn’t come out of nowhere.

“I have lots of wonderful gay cop friends who do amazing work for the community and they damn well should be allowed to march,” he posted on Facebook. “But [the Toronto Police Department] has organizationally been responsible for some unacceptable shit (BLM related, G20 related etc) so I understand the anger.”

"[At the same time] we really can’t exclude anyone and we really can’t generalize—there are shitty cops and shitty activists—but they are members of our community and deserve representation just the same on both sides."

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