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Pride Toronto asks police not to march in this year’s parade

Written by gaytourism

Marchers at Pride Toronto in 2016 (Photo: David Hudson)

Pride Toronto, in conjunction with several other local LGBT organizations, has issued a statement requesting Toronto Police withdraw its application to participate in this year’s parade.

The force has LGBTI members and allies who have marched on previous parades and hosted information stalls.

There has been friction between the two groups for the past couple of years. In 2016, the annual Pride Toronto parade was halted by a Black Lives Matter protest. In part, the group was protesting against the participation of police representatives in the festival.

Subsequently, Pride Toronto asked LGBTI police who wished to take part in the 2017 festival to do so out of uniform, and to march with the City of Toronto contingent – rather than a dedicated police group.

Gay serial killer

Toronto Police Service (TPS) applied last month to take part in this year’s parade, alongside other corporate and community groups.

However, there has been renewed criticism of TPS in the wake of the arrest of Bruce McArthur. The 66-year-old landscape gardener is charged with the murders of six men.

All the men disappeared in the last decade from Toronto’s gay village and are believed to have been gay or bisexual.

Despite many in the community fearing that a serial killer might have been operating in the city, police failed to arrest McArthur until this year. They are continuing to investigate whether he may be linked to other murders.

‘Incredibly complex and difficult time’

Yesterday’s statement was co-signed by Pride Toronto, community center The 519, Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, Sherbourne Health Centre, ASAAP, and Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP).

It calls on the Toronto Police to withdraw its application to march in the parade. The TPS will still provide security for the event.

‘We believe our resources are better invested in shared efforts that focus on deeper dialogue, collaborative action, and sustained institutional change,’ says the statement. ‘Only a significant commitment and meaningful action can start the critical work of making our communities safer.’

The statement specifically highlights the arrest of McArthur.

‘It is an incredibly complex and difficult time. The arrest of Bruce McArthur, the alleged serial killer, has added a new poignancy and a new pain to the fears that sit at the heart of anyone who lives a life of difference.

‘At the end of June, we will come together, as we have for decades, and we will be seen. We will rally and rise, but it will be with heavy hearts as we have not yet begun to grapple with our anger, shock and grief.’

The statement received a mixed response on social media.

‘I’m ashamed of Pride Toronto. Decades of work down the drain.’ responded Bernadette Denom on Twitter.

‘#ThankYou for this honest, well thought out respectful letter,’ said Twitter user @KaellumEridani. ‘There are many of us who have been traumatized by police for too long.I for one will NEVER trust them.’

GSN has contacted Toronto Police and Pride Toronto for further comment.

This year’s Pride Toronto festival runs from 22-24 June.

See also

Alleged gay serial killer Bruce McArthur charged with sixth murder

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