The committee behind Toronto’s Pride festival has released a statement to clarify police involvement in this year’s festival.
In a statement released Sunday night, organizers wrote “LGBTQ+ police officers and their allies are not banned from the parade.” But, there are stipulations to their involvement: “We are simply requesting that their participation not include the following elements: uniform, weapons, and vehicles.”
“We welcome and encourage their participation to add to Pride this year as members of our community.”
However, Police will be present to “provide all the necessary services to ensure that the festival weekend and parade are secure and successful,” reads the same statement.
During last year’s festival, members of the Black Lives Matter movement halted the Parade until a list of their demands were met, including the ban of Police from future events.
In January, the Pride committee voted to remove Toronto Police’s float going forward. Police Chief Mark Saunders responded with a statement in February saying he’s ordered Police not to be involved with Pride this year.
Since then, Toronto Officers have been suggesting that Police pull their $260,000 in funding to Pride. Toronto Coun. John Campbell said unless Pride changes their mind, he will put forth a motion to have the funds removed. “I think what they should do is come to their senses and realize that the police are their friends and not the enemy,” Campbell stated.
Mayor John Tory piped in Monday, saying although he believes Police should be involved in the parade, they should not remove their funding.
“I support the Chief’s decision and the steps that have been taken by the current management of Pride, who have been working hard to ensure the financial and organizational viability of Pride 2017 and to try to find a resolution to these outstanding issues,” Tory wrote.
“Both Olivia Nuamah and Chief Saunders inform me that constructive discussions are taking place between them to address this matter and the underlying issues that gave rise to it. And both have indicated to me that a withdrawal of City funding for Pride 2017 won’t be helpful in finding a resolution.”
Tory says Pride executive director Olivia Nuamah and Saunders are working towards a compromise to include Police in future floats.