Toronto·Point of View

Black Lives Matter, Pride and protest: Activists, police and community veterans react

From a gay police officer who tells Black Lives Matter that "exclusion does not promote inclusion," to an original Pride organizer who writes that the protest recaptured Pride's social justice roots, activists, scholars and community members are responding to the Black Lives Matters-Pride controversy.

Did Black Lives Matter alienate members of the LGBT community, or carry on its tradition of activism?

Black Lives Matter Toronto's sit-in during the annual Pride parade on Sunday drew criticism, but the organization has defended the move. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Black Lives Matter Toronto halted last weekend's Pride parade, saying the organization "has shown little honour to black queer/trans communities, and other marginalized communities." 

Mathieu Chantelois, Pride Toronto's executive director, signed a list of the group's demands, and the parade resumed soon after. 

Controversy about the protest, however, wages on. 

From a gay police officer who issued an open letter to Black Lives Matter to one of the parade's original organizers, activists, thinkers and community veterans are responding this way.

'Firmly rooted in a tradition of protest'

'The demands of Black Lives Matter Toronto have a long history within Pride,' writes a group of black LGBT thinkers and activists. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)
We were, for the first time in many years, proud to be queer at the gay parade.- A group of black LGBT activists and scholars

Black Lives Matter did not hold the Pride parade hostage, writes a collective of black LGBT activists, scholars and community leaders. The group was acting in the true spirit of Pride, and its protest was a necessary counter to the commercial "dance party" the parade has become.

READ IN FULL: Pride has always been political

'Exclusion does not promote inclusion'

Const. Chuck Krangle says the LGBT community is well represented on Toronto's police force. 'The support that I have from my peers and supervisors has been unwavering.' (Supplied by Chuck Krangle)
Police officers are significantly represented in the LGBTQ community and it would be unacceptable to alienate and discriminate against them.- Const. Chuck Krangle​, Toronto Police Force

One of Black Lives Matter Toronto's demands called for the "removal of all police floats [and] booths."

The next day, one officer wrote an open letter to Pride Toronto in response the organization accepting that term.

Pride Toronto has since said it "never agreed" to exclude police from future events, and the issue will be discussed at upcoming community meetings.

READ IN FULL: 'Exclusion does not promote inclusion'

'My Pride is political, and it includes Black Lives Matters'

The Toronto bathhouse raids of 1981 led to city-wide protests, with about 3,000 people marching against the arrests. Thirty-five years later, Toronto police issued an apology before the 2016 Pride parade. (CBC)
Black Lives Matter carried with it the spirit of Stonewall and the activist roots of Pride — not Pride as it now, defined by corporations, by mainstream political parties, by the police.- Gary Kinsman, original Pride co-organizer 

Pride has its roots in activism and protesting injustice, writes one of its original organizers. The controversy surrounding Black Lives Matter Toronto's involvement with Pride, Gary Kinsman argues, needs to be understood in light of that history, and as a continuation of that tradition.

READ IN FULL: Black Lives Matters recaptures Pride's activists roots