Toronto, CAN – Pride Toronto members have voted to exclude uniformed law enforcement officers from participating in this year’s Pride parade.
Just three months ago, the group accepted an application from Toronto police to march in the annual parade, The Star reported.
It was the first time uniformed officers gained approval to participate in the city event since 2016, when Black Lives Matter (BLM) members caused a disturbance at the parade to level allegations of police brutality against LGBTQS communities, according to Tonight.
BLM blocked the parade route and issued a multitude of demands, to include kicking police floats and cruisers out of the lineup, The Canadian Press reported.
Pride Toronto excluded law enforcement officers from the parade in 2017 due to alleged concerns about racial profiling, and kept them out again in 2018 because members believed police had not taken the disappearance of several gay men seriously enough.
According to The Canadian Press, police arrested 66-year-old Bruce McArthur on eight counts of murder with regards to those disappearances.
Pride Toronto lifted the ban in October of 2018, resulting in backlash from many of its members, according to Tonight.
During a special general meeting at Ryerson University on Tuesday night, Pride Toronto members voted 163 to 161 to ban uniformed law enforcement officers once again, The Star reported.
The membership nearly doubled in the 48 hours prior to the vote being held, Pride Toronto member Akio Maroon told The Star.
“I am a little bit shocked about that and I know that there are people who have been waiting to qualify to vote for a very long time,” Maroon added. “So, it seems weird.”
No Pride in Policing Coalition member Gary Kinsman, who also participated in the vote, boasted that his group was still able to keep police out of the parade, despite the last-minute addition of new members to the voting list.
The ban is supposed to last for two years, but Kinsman said the group amended that requirement so that another vote can be held sooner if members think it is appropriate to do so.
“For many people in our community, to have [police] present as an organized force in Pride would actually create unsafe situations,” Kinsman declared. “Pride is for us, the LGBT people, not the police.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory voiced his disagreement with the outcome of the vote during a press conference on Wednesday.
“I think that the inclusion of police in Pride for 2019 would be a positive step for a positive, beloved event,” Tory said. “But much more, it would be a sign of the good faith on the overall picture.”
Tory said he will continue to do everything he can to help prevent the city from becoming “divided and polarized” due to this issue.
“We must not let happen…on this issue or a host of other issues, the kind of polarization that we see elsewhere,” he added.
He noted that Pride Toronto organizers tried to compel their members to include law enforcement officers in the communitywide event, and that they – and the citizens – shouldn’t blindly “accept” the outcome of the vote.
“Division is the enemy to be wary of here, for everybody,” the mayor said.
Toronto police seemed to take the latest expulsion in stride, and said that they “remain committed to maintaining a dialogue with Pride Toronto as well as the larger LGBTQS community to deliver policing services that are inclusive and responsive to the needs of the community regardless of the outcome of one particular vote or event,” The Canadian Press reported.