Progression or Regression? banning the police from the pride parade by Lauren Picot

Introduction

The Toronto Pride Parade is a week to celebrate all LGBT members no matter what race, religion or colour. It represents just how far society has come through the generations including the legalization of gay marriage back in 2005. Although things have greatly improved over the years there is a new issue that has effected this progression. The group Black Lives Matter halted the 2016 Pride Parade and would not move until their list of demands have been met. The most controversial demand is that all members of the Toronto Police force and their floats be removed indefinably from the parade because Black Lives Matter feels uneasy about the law enforcement being present at the event.

The Point of Pride

Toronto's Pride Week evolved out of the mass protests that followed the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids. In 1981 Operation Soap was a raid by the Metropolitan Toronto Police against four gay bathhouses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which took place on February 5, 1981. More than three hundred men were arrested, the largest mass arrest in Canada. In the 2005 parade, newly appointed Toronto police chief Bill Blair became the first chief of police in the city's history to personally take part in the parade. He marched alongside politicians of all parties, including several federal and provincial cabinet ministers and Mayor David Miller. Pride Toronto is a ten-day event held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, during the end of June each year. It is a celebration of the diversity of the LGBT community in the Greater Toronto Area. It is one of the largest organized gay pride festivals in the world, featuring several stages with live performers and DJs, several licensed venues, a large Dyke March, a Trans March and the Pride Parade.

What is Black Lives Matter?

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and perceived systemic racism toward black people. BLM regularly holds protests against police killings of black people and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.

Reasoning for the Ban

At Toronto's Pride parade in July, members of the Black Lives Matter Toronto group briefly halted the parade with a sit-in, which ended when Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a document agreeing to a list of demands. “We’ve made it very clear that we challenge the police floats and booths because [for] communities of colour, the presence of police makes people very unsafe and very uncomfortable,” said BLMTO co-founder Janaya Khan.

Demands made by Black Lives Matter

Is this the right decisions?

The Pride Parade was first formed from the horrific 1981 Bathhouse Raids in which police would arrest and beat 300 gay men. Fast forward to 2005 when the first Toronto police chief Bill Blair became the first chief of police in the city's history to personally take part in the parade. Since 1981 the relationship between LGBT has grown stronger. New generations have been born and are now more accepting of the rights of Trans and gay people. If this ban is put into place then instead of continuing to move forward we will be taking a step back. Therefor this police ban should be revoked so relationships can be built for everyone and not be ruined by close minded individuals who choose to punish the whole Toronto Metropolitan police force rather than the individuals who are guilty of the brutality.

What Happens to LGBT Police?

Danielle Bottineau , a Toronto Police Service constable and a member of the city's LGBT community, has participated in Pride for the past seven years as a uniformed officer and an LGBT liaison on the force. Bottineau says she's disheartened by Pride Toronto's decision to limit police involvement in its events "I'm saddened by it for sure. I'm disheartened by it. Police officers should be visible participants in Pride events because their participation sends an important message to young members of the community. Pride Toronto emphasized that members of the police service are “still welcome to march in the Parade as members or allies” of the community. However the police officers cannot be in their uniforms which defeats the purpose of showing the bridges they have built to get to where they are today. Those officers should have just as much to do with the parade as Black Lives Matter.

Moving Forward

The only answer to this problem is finding a common ground with Black Live Matter because for them to almost put a dark cloud over what is suppose to be a happy and joyous celebration is unacceptable. I am positive that Pride and Black lives matter can think of a peaceful solution without it resolving in another protest or argument. A way to fix this would be to keep the officers on one side of the parade and BLM on the other so they do not cross paths during the week. There is a solution to this and as humans we are capable of listening and agreeing.

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view."
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
"Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it."
"Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery."

Conclusion

In conclusion Pride Toronto should reevaluate the situation and make it so that no human being no matter what race, gender, religion, colour or occupation is left out. There are so many bad things going on in this world right now. We do not need to turn a beautiful week into a political problem. The only way we can ever eliminate diversity is if we find unity.

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