No Uniformed Police at Ottawa Capital Pride 2017
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To the Ottawa Capital Pride,
We, the undersigned, are writing to demand that Ottawa Capital Pride ban uniformed off-duty police officers from all events during the week of Pride. This statement is in solidarity with the anti-racist efforts of many other organizations that support the goals of making Capital Pride a safer place for everyone. If officers wish to participate in Pride Week, we ask that they do so as civilians and without their police vehicles, uniforms, or equipment.
It is essential that the Ottawa Capital Pride is inclusive of people targeted by police such as people who are immigrants, queer & trans people of colour (especially Black persons), indigenous people (including Two-Spirit persons, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and non-status persons), sex workers, people with mental illness, and people with disabilities. While the reduced harassment of gay/lesbian/queer white people by police in recent years is positive, having uniformed police officers at the Ottawa Capital Pride is an exclusive and harmful act to those most affected by police violence.
In light of the recent reports on events of police violence which have targeted immigrant people and Black people across the continent, this issue is especially topical for the 2017 Ottawa Capital Pride.
Many of us have been partners with Ottawa Capital Pride in the past, instrumental in running community events and taking part in the Pride Parade, and we know what an important week it is for tens of thousands of people in our communities. We are dedicated to helping remove barriers to participation in the Ottawa Capital Pride Week; having uniformed police officers present is one of these barriers.
Inviting police officers to participate as civilians in Ottawa Capital Pride will improve inclusion. Groups who are targeted by police will be able to attend without feeling that they are under scrutiny or that they are at increased risk of altercations with or violence by police. We also ask that you consult with organizations in our communities who represent marginalized folks to gain more understanding on the issues and work together on moving forward.
We note that banning police uniforms does not exclude any people, only items of clothing/work uniforms, and thus does not make Ottawa Capital Pride less inclusive. If uniformed police officers are allowed to participate in Ottawa Capital Pride, we will not partner with Ottawa Capital Pride for any events during the week. This would be a major loss for us as we believe that Pride is so important and we’re proud to be part of it, but we are accountable to the LGBTQ+ communities we serve, which include people who are immigrants, people of colour, indigenous people, sex workers, those with disabilities, and those with mental illnesses who have experienced police violence.
We look forward to hearing your response. Committing to an absence of uniformed off-duty police at Ottawa Capital Pride is essential for the safety of our communities in Ottawa, and for building a community and week of pride celebrations that is welcoming and inclusive for all LGBTQ+ people.
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