Sudbury

Sudbury Pride aims to continue conversations around policing

A re-imagined Pride Week kicks off in Sudbury on Monday. While there will be no group gatherings this year, organizers with Fierté Sudbury Pride still hope to build community and spark conversation.

Organizers hope to build on conversations sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement

Fierté Sudbury Pride is hosting Pride celebrations online, from July 13 o 19. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

A re-imagined Pride Week kicks off in Sudbury today, and while there will be no group gatherings this year, organizers with Fierté Sudbury Pride still hope to build community and spark conversation.

The week of events is completely virtual this year — and has been dubbed "Queerantine." Along with online performances, trivia, and a Pride worship service, there are also speakers and panel discussions.

One of the events will focus on policing — which organizers hope will build on recent conversations sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement, both locally and around the globe. 

"A lot of LGBT folks happen to be Black or brown, Indigenous or racialized in some way, and impacted greatly by some of the policing practices that have been happening," said Laur O'Goman, a representative with Fierté Sudbury Pride, and one of the organizers of the community forum on policing taking place Saturday. 

"A lot of people are talking about defunding the police right now throughout North America, and so we want to talk about what it might mean to defund, disarm, demilitarize or even abolish the police, and what these things could look like in our community."

Continuing the conversation 

O'Gorman noted that conversations about policing within the Pride movement are nothing new, with the first Pride marches beginning as protests in response to police raids. 

"The LGBT community has been talking about the role of policing marginalized communities for decades," they said. 

Locally, there have also been recent conversations around the relationship between Pride and the police. In 2017, Sudbury police agreed not to march in uniform during the Sudbury Pride parade. 

"We were trying to kind of distance ourselves from the police in some ways, while still trying to work with them in other ways to try and help them learn about why people might have issues with policing," O'Gorman said. 

Greater Sudbury police chief Paul Pedersen marches in the Sudbury Pride parade in 2015. Two years later, police agreed not to march in uniform. (Greater Sudbury Police Service)

The forum on Saturday will feature several activists, including a representative from Sudbury Black Lives Matter, O'Gorman said. 

O'Gorman says there have been "huge gains" recently, thanks to Black Lives Matter. They're glad to see more people talking about policing and racism. But they also know not everyone has had the same experiences. 

"So we're just trying to talk about, or help explain to people who may not have had issues with policing what it might look like to defund the police, why we need to do this, why the police are a problem for some people." 

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