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Pride Toronto ‘regrets’ Black Lives Matter Toronto parade protest flip-flop

Black Lives Matter interrupts Toronto Pride Parade
WATCH ABOVE: Black Lives Matter interrupts Toronto Pride Parade

Pride Toronto is apologizing for a “history of anti-blackness” within its organization and regrets the way the Black Lives Matter Toronto pride parade protest was handled earlier this summer.

The mea culpa comes after Pride Toronto held two town hall meetings to discuss racial divisions following a staged sit-in by the activist group during the parade in July.

“Pride Toronto wants to begin by apologizing emphatically and unreservedly for its role in deepening the divisions in our community, for a history of anti-blackness and repeated marginalization of the marginalized within our community that our organization has continued,” the board of directors from Pride Toronto said in a statement.

Black Lives Matter organizer Syrus Marcus Ware said Pride’s statement is disappointing because it doesn’t lay out any way they are going to make the organization and events more inclusive.

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“We already know there’s anti-blackness. What are you going to do about it?,” Ware said. “We need this organization to be better and to represent the diversity of the community organization to fight for us.”

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter wants protest demands met by Pride Toronto despite flip-flop

Black Lives Matter Toronto brought the parade to a standstill for about half an hour and only resumed when Pride Toronto’s executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a list of demands. He did an about-face the next day and subsequently resigned from his position two weeks later.

“Pride Toronto regrets the way Black Lives Matter – Toronto Coalition’s (BLMTO) protest was handled by our organization and the statements made following the Parade that did not represent our organization,” Pride Toronto said.

VIDEO: Black Lives Matter addresses Toronto Pride Parade protest and backlash

Black Lives Matters addresses Toronto Pride Parade protest and backlash
Black Lives Matters addresses Toronto Pride Parade protest and backlash

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter flooded with hate mail following Toronto Pride Parade sit-in

The list of demands by Black Lives Matter included more funding and better representation for racialized communities during Pride events and the exclusion of police officers.

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Pride Toronto said its Dispute Resolution Process (DRP) will review police participation in future events.

“Recognizing that no one has asked or agreed to a full exclusion of this group – the DRP will however consider the nature of police participation,” Pride Toronto said.

Ware said the DRP is flawed and doesn’t facilitate meaningful solutions.

“They still haven’t done the work to actually connecting with the community they are supposedly sorry for leaving out,” she said. “How are they going to directly make changes that will impact Black people and trans queer in Toronto?”

READ MORE: Pride Toronto denies it has agreed to ban police floats from future parades

Pride Toronto said Black Lives Matter Toronto was chosen as the Honoured Group for the parade to “create discussion” but were unprepared for the “racism this would ignite.”

“Pride Toronto did not make enough of an effort to engage with members of our black community who have worked with the organization for a very long time,” the statement said.

The organization said is plans to mend its decision-making process by first hiring a new executive director and adding four new members to its board of directors.

The topic of inclusiveness will also be discussed at its upcoming Annual General Meeting.

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