Pride Toronto is denying it has agreed to ban police floats from its parades, saying it has committed only to having a “conversation” about the controversial demand made by Black Lives Matter after the group staged a sit-in that held up Sunday’s march and angered the police union.
While Pride’s executive director signed the list of nine demands and ended the 30-minute protest, co-chair Aaron GlynWilliams said Monday nothing was actually agreed upon and that the signing was done to get the parade moving again.
GlynWilliams said Pride organizers will now turn to discussing the demands internally and with police and Black Lives Matter Toronto.
“We’ll continue that conversation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rodney Diverlus with Black Lives Matter has indicated the demand concerning police — the “removal of all police floats/booths in all Pride marches/parades/community spaces” — is open to negotiation.
Black Lives Matter sees the proposed ban as strictly for police parading in uniform, while the group is open to LGBTQ officers participating out of uniform, the co-founder told Global News.
Police Chief Mark Saunders refused to comment on the ban.
“Right now it’s all speculation. I’m waiting for the Pride executive to contact me. Until I’m informed as to what the circumstance is, there isn’t much I can say or offer,” he told reporters.
The head of the police union said he was outraged by the proposal.
The police force has been actively involved in Pride for years, and officers shouldn’t be excluded from future parades, said Toronto Police Association head Mike McCormack.
READ MORE: Black Lives Matter gets police kicked out of future Pride parades say co-founders
The idea of barring police led one openly gay officer to pen a public letter decrying the proposal as discriminatory.
“Basically the letter was about — this was my first pride, and it was very powerful for me to see the police and how many officers were marching. I didn’t expect that and basically it was a display of how much we are supported, how much LGBTQ officers are supported,” Const. Chuck Krangle told Global News.
“Removing the floats and us from the parade … we’re part of the community. It’s not just about the police being part of the community, it’s about the police accepting their own.”
When asked whether he would attend next year’s parade if police in uniform are banned from floats, Krangle said that “Uniformed officers are LGBTQ, are part of the community as well.”
Krangle, who was not speaking for the force, said he wasn’t commenting on Black Lives Matter, though his letter was addressed to Pride Toronto over its perceived agreement with the protest group’s police float demand.
“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,” wrote Krangle.
“Exclusion does not promote inclusion.”
Black Lives Matter’s list of demands also includes calls for greater space and funding for black queer youth, better representation of black LGBTQ in the event’s organization and a townhall with Pride for marginalized communities.
Police and Black Lives Matter have been at constant odds over the practice of carding, which disproportionately targets black youth, and the recent shooting deaths of black men in Toronto like Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby.
Diverlus said “carding happens to LGBT black folks as well,” and defended the protest tactic.
“So folks might think this tactic is a bit too divisive or a bit out there, I just challenge them to think of which side of history they will be in 20 years and how they think of black inclusion within LGBT spaces,” he said.
With files from Tom Hayes, David Shum, Peter Kim and The Canadian Press