Vancouver Pride has just banned uniformed police from their 2018 parade. Police will not only have to wear their civilian clothes, but they will also not be allowed to carry weapons. The Vancouver Pride police decision was announced at the annual general meeting on November 25.
Police who want to march will be allowed to — but only as individual people marching with the official City of Vancouver group.
The call to remove police came from the Vancouver chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM). In February, BLM petitioned the city to remove police presence from this year’s parade. For the August 2017 parade, Vancouver Pride compromised; police marched mostly un-uniformed, but approximately 20% of people wore their uniforms with weapons. The rest wore t-shirts with the police department’s logo.
However, BLM wasn’t consulted about this year’s march. BLM Vancouver member Jabari Cofer said “They’re claiming this was a dialogue but it hasn’t been. They haven’t talked to us since the meeting in February.”
Fatima Jaffer, founder of Trikone, a South Asian queer support group, criticized the Vancouver Police Department for the August compromise:
It’s the VPD that isn’t listening. If this is the extent of what the [Vancouver Pride Society] has managed to negotiate with the VPD, it’s shame on the VPD that they haven’t listened to the calls that say, “Step back right now, this is the best way you can be an ally or listen.”
Police presence at Pride events has been controversial. In addition to issues of community raised by BLM, Pride grew out of resistance to repeated police harassment. And, it should be noted, police harassment isn’t a thing of the past — this year, Atlanta police shut down four gay bars during Black Pride Weekend in September.
Featured image by sshaw75 via iStock