Vote held at Pride Toronto AGM to ban police floats from future parades
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2017 7:24AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 19, 2017 5:20AM EST
A spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service says it is not clear if a vote at Pride Toronto’s Annual General Meeting Tuesday night really means police are banned from participating in future parades.
During the meeting last night, a motion was presented asking members to address the demands made by Black Lives Matter- Toronto during a sit-in at last year's Pride Parade. One of the demands called for Pride organizers to ban police floats and booths at future parades.
The majority of those who attended the meeting voted to adopt all of the demands made by Black Lives Matter.
But Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash says it still isn’t clear exactly what was voted on Tuesday night.
“We don’t know what happened. People can’t seem to agree on whether police were excluded or whether it has something to do with uniforms and guns,” he told CP24 Wednesday.
Pugash said the police service will need “some clarification” before it can decide how to proceed.
“I can’t comment on what was decided last night because we don’t know. But our job to protect public safety continues irrespective of anything else. We will continue to do that,” he said.
Pugash added that regardless of what decision Pride Toronto makes about the police service’s role in future parades, Toronto police will continue its outreach in the LGBTQ community.
“We have good relationships. We’ve made progress. We still have work to do. But we are going build relationships, we are going to create new relationships. We will choose inclusion over division. It is a shame people don’t agree with that,” he stated.
Not all members of Pride Toronto believe police should be banned from taking part in the event.
“It was always a discussion and what we always tried to be clear about is that it is a discussion about the role of law enforcement in the Toronto Pride Parade and not a ban,” Aaron GlynWilliams, an outgoing board member, told CTV News Toronto at Tuesday night’s meeting.
“Perhaps a cavalcade of sirens and inmate buses and vehicles is not the most appropriate way to participate in the parade. Nowhere in what I just said is that it is not appropriate to participate.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor John Tory issued a statement on police participation in the parade and in it, Tory emphasized the importance of making sure all citizens feel “respected and included, “ a task he described as an “ongoing challenge.”
“The Toronto Police have had a presence in the Pride parade for more than a decade and continue to make meaningful efforts to build bridges with the LGBTQ2S community. Also, we rely on our police service to keep Pride safe every year and obviously they must continue to do so,” Tory's statement read.
“With respect to police participation in the Pride parade, I am hopeful that people of goodwill can find a way to resolve this issue and to ensure that we can continue to build those vitally important bridges."