The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) joined other police associations in condemning the executive director of Pride Toronto for appearing to agree to demands made by Black Lives Matter during Sunday’s Pride Parade, which called for, among other things, banning police floats and marches from future parades.
“It was frustrating to watch a single group hijack and hold the parade hostage to achieve their goals,” Rob Jamieson, president of the OPPA, said in a release Monday, July 4. “Using an event like Pride, conducted under the banner ‘You Can Sit With Us’ to exclude police personnel from participating in the future flies in the face of a theme which, by Pride Toronto’s own promotion, sought to ‘make everyone feel connected and included.’”
As an organization committed to diversity and inclusion in law enforcement, Jamieson said the OPPA is concerned over what transpired as a result of a protest during the parade.
“Hundreds of the nearly 10,000 sworn and civilian members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) that we represent are members of the LGBTQ+ community,” he said.
“They work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to serve and protect their communities and they have struggled for equality and inclusion in policing and the LGBTQ+ community for years. Our board of directors marched in the parade yesterday and saw members in full uniform holding hands with their partners and we were so proud of how far we as an association and policing in general have come.”
Jamieson said the OPPA will seek assurances from Pride Toronto they do not intend on preventing proud supporters of their movement from having floats and participating in future parades.
Black Lives Matter, an honoured guest at this year’s parade, stopped floats and marchers at Yonge and College streets until Pride officials agreed to their demands, which included excluding police floats from future marches.
Police also wouldn’t be allowed to have booths at future Pride celebrations, if the demands are met.
Other demands included increased funding and support for Black Queer Youth events and Blockorama, the Pride showcase for black performers; holding a town hall meeting for marginalized communities within six months; a reinstatement of the South Asian stage; the hiring more black deaf and ASL interpreters and black trans women, indigenous people, and others from vulnerable communities.
Pride director Mathieu Chantelois signed what appeared to be a document agreeing to Black Lives Matter’s list of demands, but on Monday told a media outlet what he signed off on was simply a discussion, not cutting police presence.
“We agreed to look at concerns…to sit down together and make the right decisions,” he said.
Jamieson’s comments follow similar ones from the Toronto Police Association and the Police Association of Ontario (PAO)