519 handing out ‘mobilization kits’ in case of disruptions during Pride weekend
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, June 21, 2019 10:09AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 21, 2019 11:03AM EDT
The 519 Community Centre is handing out what it calls “mobilization kits” to its members ahead of Pride weekend, with the aim of preparing people for possible confrontations with anti-LGTBQ demonstrators after two incidents in the Village in the past two months.
The kits include a banner to unfurl with “affirming, community-centric messages of love,” noise makers, lists of chants to respond with, and a bandana.
The kits come as the Village dealt with two confrontations with Christian demonstrators in May and June.
On May 1, a man with a loudspeaker on the corner of Church and Wellesley streets reportedly shouted derogatory terms at people walking past him.
A staff member at the 519 told CP24 at the time the man was preaching hatred against the LGBTQ community.
Police arrived to quell the confrontation that ensued but no charges were laid.
More than a month later on June 4, pastor David Lynn and his followers stood at the same intersection and Lynn told passersby he was “coming out as a Christian” and that some people want him to “stay in the closet” as a Christian.
Members of the community became engaged in a heated argument with him and his followers.
Police arrived and Lynn was arrested.
In Hamilton's Gage Park last weekend, a brawl ensued after people carrying placards suggesting LGBTQ people were doomed to go to hell confronted a pride festival taking place there.
He was charged with causing a disturbance but insisted after his release on bail that he was not preaching hate, and was merely on a tour of Toronto with his followers and the Village was just another stop on the list.
Lynn cannot attend the Pride Parade or any other Pride event this month per the terms of his release on bail.
The 519 is urging its members to only make use of the kits if they feel safe, and to not engage in physical violence.
“Peacefully disrupt anti-LGBTQ2S rhetoric through amplified messages of affirmation for queer, trans and two-spirit communities,” a guide released by the 519 on Thursday reads. “Use the noisemakers to drown out the hate, use the signs and banners to block out hateful messaging. Watch out for each other.”
The kits are on offer at the 519, The Glad Day Bookshop and The Pride volunteer HQ at 475 Yonge Street.