Angry scene unfolds at Surrey RCMP headquarters for Pride flag raising
Protesters and counter-protesters shout each other down and wave signs in advance of ceremony
A chaotic and angry scene unfolded in front of Surrey RCMP headquarters Monday morning where dozens of people for and against the raising of a Pride flag took turns shouting each other down and waving signs.
Nevertheless, a short ceremony went ahead as scheduled and the rainbow flag was hoisted over the front doors of the detachment.
"The RCMP, like Canada, is stronger because of its diversity," said Asst. Commissioner Dwayne McDonald. "The Surrey RCMP are supportive of an inclusive and diverse population and it's important for us to embrace all cultures in our community."
This is the first year the Surrey RCMP has flown the flag.
Martin Rooney, president of the Surrey Pride society, said Surrey Mounties have been supportive of LGBTQ events in the city going back two decades when members provided rotating security to the first ever Pride event in the city.
"It's absolutely amazing with the relationship we've had that the RCMP shows it's unafraid to fly the flag," Rooney said.
However, Kari Simpson, head of the anti-LGBTQ group Culture Guard called the rainbow flag a political symbol and the flag raising a tipping point.
"We're saying enough is enough," said Simpson. "When an organization is supposed to be politically neutral but starts giving special rights to one group's political agenda, that's an overstepping of boundaries in Canada."
According to RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, the decision to raise a flag in recognition of Pride month is made at the community and detachment level.
"Those [detachments] choosing to fly the flag are encouraged to do so," said Shoihet. "As an employer, the displaying of the Pride flag acknowledges, supports and reflects the diversity of our employees and the importance of inclusion."
Shoihet did not know how many other detachments were raising a Pride flag.
McDonald said he was unaware of any opposition to the flag from within detachment membership.