Pride Toronto to decide future of police parade floats through review panel
'As a board we have struggled with this issue,' says Pride co-chair Alica Hall
Pride Toronto has accepted, and plans to review an official complaint from Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) about the inclusion of police floats in the city's annual pride parade.
The LGBTQ organization clarified its stance on the hot topic issue at a Tuesday evening townhall event hosted at Ada Slaight Hall on Dundas Street East.
"We signed the agreement with a commitment to work with Blackness Yes!, Black Queer Youth and Black Lives Matter and our communities to strengthen our relationship," said Pride Toronto board co-chair Alica Hall.
In July, the Pride parade was temporarily blocked by a Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) protest. The event resumed 30 minutes later after top Pride executives agreed to a list of demands for next year's festival, including a ban on police floats in the festival's penultimate march.
The next day, Pride Toronto's former leader, Mathieu Chantelois, said the organization never agreed to exclude police from its events, but would have discussions with the force about what its future involvement would look like.
On Tuesday night, Pride Toronto representatives distanced themselves from that statement, saying the comments made "in the media suggesting we had no intention of meeting these demands ... misrepresented our organization's position."
Hall said most of BLMTO's requests can be done — but the situation with police participation is trickier.
"As a board we have struggled with this issue," said Hall Tuesday.
All of the feedback compiled from the townhall meetings and emails the organization has received will be part of the decision made by a dispute resolution panel that Pride Toronto says will be announced in September.
Members and supporters of BLMTO showed up at the first public meeting Tuesday night and are expected to attend the second and final townhall tonight at 6:30 p.m. as well.
"There is no pride in policing so we're done talking about it," Syrus Marcus Ware, a member of the BLMTO steering committee, told CBC News at the townhall.
The group has previously said that if Pride Toronto doesn't honour the agreement made at the parade then it might be time to replace Pride Toronto with another organization.