May 18, 2018 6:40 am

Decision to keep uniformed officers out of London Pride parade ’empowering’: police board

Pride London President Andrew Rosser and London Police Diversity Officer Theresa Allott raising the pride flag at police headquarters in London, Ont.

Travis Dolynny/980 CFPL

There was a push to change the conversation surrounding police in the London Pride parade at Thursday’s police services board meeting.

The dialogue until now has focused on the negative — that uniformed police will not be allowed to walk in the parade — but the board’s vice-chair, Susan Toth, believes the decision should be seen as a positive move.

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“[It shows] the community feels comfortable enough to say ‘This is a decision we have made,'” said Toth.

“Those things change and it’s all part of the evolving relationship with that community, in particular with the black and Indigenous communities who are part of the LGBTQ+ group,’ said Toth.

In April, it was announced officers would not be allowed to walk in London’s Pride parade wearing their uniforms or driving police cruisers.

The president of the Pride London Festival, Andrew Rosser, said seeing such a large police presence was discouraging members of the Indigenous community as well as people of colour from attending the parade.

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Looking to reframe the decision as one of empowerment from the LGBTQ+ community, rather than one of disappointment from police, Toth said it’s important to look at the decision from the perspective of all communities.

“[I want] to remind people that initially the Pride movement — as powerful as it was and as important as it was — didn’t really look at that intersectional piece,” she said.

“The decision shouldn’t be looked at as a step backward, but rather been seen as a community that is feeling very empowered.”

“It shows the trust that the LGBTQ+ community feels that it can go to the police services and say ‘Not this year.’ I hope we can actually see that as a positive,” said Toth.

Pride parades in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary have also barred uniformed police officers from participating in Pride festivities.

— With files from Liny Lamberink

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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