Black Lives Matter says it will hold Pride organizers accountable for demands
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, July 7, 2016 6:46AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 7, 2016 3:56PM EDT
Members of Black Lives Matter – Toronto say they are unwilling to compromise on their demands of Pride Toronto and will hold the organization accountable should it go back on its promise to ban police floats from future Pride parades.
During Sunday’s Pride parade, members of Black Lives Matter- Toronto staged a sit-in protest to draw attention to a number of issues relating to pride and its inclusion, or lack thereof, of the black community.
The parade, which was halted for close to 30 minutes, only resumed after Pride Toronto
Executive Director Mathieu Chantelois signed a list of demands, which included banning police floats from future Pride parades, doubling funding for the Blockorama stage and agreeing to hold a public town hall with members of the black LGBT community.
The following day, however, Chantelois said he only agreed to have a conversation with the group about police involvement in the Pride Parade and did not commit to banning police floats.
At a news conference held on Thursday, members of Black Lives Matter – Toronto said that is simply not good enough.
“Pride Toronto has recanted from their commitment and we as communities are very disappointed to see that but it is historically accurate of Pride. There are promises that are given to the black community, there are commitments that are made and they are quickly recanted,”
Co-founder Rodney Diverlus said. “As such we are left no choice but to go back to our community and to evaluate our options. Right now the options are open and right now we are putting everything on the table.”
Diverlus said that Black Lives Matter – Toronto will hold a meeting with members of the black LGBT community in the next “couple of weeks” to discuss what their next steps will be.
That meeting will not be open to Pride Toronto organizers.
“These demands were accepted and they were accepted in full so we are going to hold Pride Toronto for the acceptance of the demands in full,” Diverlus said.
Tory has defended role of police in Pride
Following Sunday’s sit-in, Mayor Tory wrote an open letter to Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack thanking police for their involvement in pride this year and expressing confidence that their participation would “continue for years to come.”
Tory then told reporters that excluding police from future pride parades would be a “backwards step for the whole community.”
Discussing Tory’s comments with reporters, Diverlus said that the mayor should “stay in his own lane” because he has “no place in the discussion.”
Other members of Black Lives Matter- Toronto, meanwhile, said that Tory is missing the point.
“Understand the symbolization of a police float. In the last 24 hours we have seen two black bodies shot and killed by police (In Minnesota and New Orleans). What does it mean when you are trying to be a part of pride and have a symbolic representation of your oppressor?” Alexandria Williams said.
“BLM hasn’t said that the police can’t march, they have just said that they don’t want official police floats and police marching in uniforms because that represents a particular symbol,” Rinaldo Walcott said. “That is not about exclusion, that is about a different definition of what inclusion is and who should be the focus of the pride parade and who should feel comfortable and wanted at the pride parade.”
Though some have criticized Black Lives Matter – Toronto for escalating their actions unnecessarily, members of the movement that were on hand on Thursday said they stand behind the sit-in and all of the demands they have made of Pride Toronto.
“How much oppression, how much injustice do you think it would take for us to create the intervention we did? That should be the question,” Janaya Khan said.