Police union upset by Pride Winnipeg's decision against officers in uniform
Pride says move came after consultations with marginalized groups
The union representing Winnipeg police officers is concerned about a decision by Pride Winnipeg to prevent officers from marching in the festival's parade in uniform.
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"Quite frankly I'm a little disappointed in the organizers for making such a bold statement," said Maurice Sabourin, president of the Winnipeg Police Association.
Sabourin said there a number of Winnipeg police officers who are part of Winnipeg's LGBT community and the decision to ban them from marching in uniform isn't fair to them or their colleagues.
"Now they're being discriminated against," he said. Pride Winnipeg announced last Friday police would be welcome to march in the Pride parade this Sunday but not in uniform with the exception of on-duty officers directing traffic.
Experiences with mistrust, apathy and prejudice were prevalent among transgender people, two-spirited individuals and queer people of colour, Pride said.
'A bold statement'
Pride Winnipeg president Jonathan Niemczak said he wasn't surprised by the union's response and recognized it's a sensitive issue.
He defended the organization's decision and said he'd like to arrange a meeting between the police union and Pride officials to explain their reasons for their decision.
"It's a bold statement in the right direction. We listened to the underprivileged and we took action," Niemczak said.
"It's easy to call us all out without really understanding all the background and there's a lot of background."
Marginalized 'cower' at sight of police
"I've literally seen people who physically cower, who will make themselves smaller if we pull up beside a police vehicle."
Foy said he was frustrated to hear the union's comments Tuesday morning.
"The police union has never come to the table and said this to us and so then it's just like a real backhand to all of us."
Union questions motive
Sabourin questioned the timing of Pride Winnipeg's decision and wondered if it was simply following in the footsteps of Pride Toronto which has also asked police officers not to march in uniform.
"I'm just assuming that it's the same motivation here that we saw in Toronto for not having police attend," Sabourin said adding "If that group is trying to incite hatred they're being successful."
Niemczak said Pride Toronto had no influence on his organization's decision.
"This was a locally made decision with local groups."
with files by Meaghan Ketcheson