Remove the police from the Vancouver Pride Parade
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Black Lives Matter Vancouver (BC, Canada) calls for the Vancouver Pride Society to remove any and all presence of uniformed police officers (VPD and RCMP) from marching in the Vancouver Pride Parade in 2017 and onward.
Statements from our 2016 open letter to the VPS, VPD and RCMP:
We understand the requirement to have the Vancouver Police Department present to perform a civil service and ensure the safety of the public, however we look forward to this voluntary withdrawal from the parade itself as a symbolic gesture and actual sign of support for PoC and Black communities, and an attempt to bridge the divide that the effects of institutionalized racism impose on our daily lives.
Having the Vancouver Police Department on the ground to perform a civil service is understandable however having the institution participate on a float in the organized festivities of the actual parade is inappropriate and insulting to those who came before us to make Pride celebrations possible, some of who even died for the cause. Embracing the institution in an event that originates from protest against its actions makes us justifiably uncomfortable.
Our work is to stay true to the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement and to be Black Lives Matter is to work against police brutality and police militarization wherever we are.
“Why do you want to exclude the police from a celebration for everyone?”
We want all queer and trans people to feel safe and included. Pride is a protest.
What the world now knows as Pride began when trans women of colour fought back against police raids at Stonewall in 1969. Police raids on bathhouses and operations against the LGBT+ community happened in the 80s and still happen today in Canada. In a gay neighbourhood just this year, police in Toronto tasered a Black man and made comments about his HIV status to the public. The Vancouver Police department was taken to the Human Rights Tribunal in 2015 for violating a trans woman’s human rights. A VPD detective was recently charged with sexual exploitation and sexual assault. The RCMP has publicly admitted systemic racism exists within the force. The VPD and the RCMP have repeatedly been called out about inaction towards Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (and were then violent at a protest on the matter) and even Human Rights Watch has cited Canada’s abusive policing and neglect. Across the country the police have a poor track record and current practices for dealing with Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour and queer and trans individuals.
If some members of the queer community do not feel comfortable at Pride events supposedly for ALL members of the queer community, we must be the priority- not an institution.
The police can of course be present to do their jobs and show support but being in the parade is not appropriate. The Vancouver Women’s march in January had almost 15,000 people and very little uniformed police presence.
“What about gay police officers?”
They can take their uniforms off and have fun as human beings. Gay lawyers, doctors, and plumbers don’t need to participate as a team in their work clothes. The same goes for police.
“Why can’t they show their support now?”
Because systemic oppression isn’t over. The policing institution is an instrument of state violence and oppression. Dressing up in rainbows and feather boas does not change that fact. If they really support queer and trans people of colour they need to do a lot more work to earn their spot. There are so many other ways they can show meaningful initiative to work to protect the most marginalized groups.
“Why are you being divisive?”
Pointing out instances of exclusion is not divisive. Being excluded is. Check yourself.
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