The Vancouver Police Department has been asked by Black Lives Matter Vancouver to voluntarily drop out of a Pride Parade scheduled for July 31, claiming its presence creates an "unsafe atmosphere for some communities."
The Canadian Press reported
that an open letter posted last Friday comes after the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matters stopped the city's parade until organizers agreed to a list of demands, including banning police floats from future marches.
"Following our successful interactions at the BLM vigil on July 10, we invite the Vancouver Police Department to voluntarily withdraw from marching in the parade itself as a show of solidarity and understanding as to why participation in this particular manner perpetuates an unsafe atmosphere for the very same Indigenous, [people of color], and Black communities the Vancouver Pride Society has committed to intentionally include," the letter stated
The group went on to say that it would not participate in the Pride parade itself, questioning the motives of the Vancouver Pride Society.
"We do this not only because we feel that Pride no longer represents community action, resistance and revolution but also as an act of solidarity with BLM chapters across North America to whom Pride parades have been made inaccessible," Black Lives Matter Vancouver wrote about its decision not to participate.
The Black Lives Matter letter went on to say that while it understand that the police department will have officers there to protect the parade, withdrawing their float would send a sign to "bridge the divide that the effects of institutionalized racism impose on our daily lives."
The group suggested in its letter that the police float be replaced by a "public service float," which would include "police officers, firefighters, paramedics and others" as an alternative.
The Vancouver Pride Society said
in its own statement earlier last week that it had not received a specific request to exclude a police float from its parade, but would "continue working with police to educate and include them in ways that are appropriate."
"We understand that this may create barriers for some members of our community who feel they cannot access our events. We will continue to encourage and support meaningful dialogue between police and all parts of our community," the Vancouver Pride Society statement continued.
Vancouver Police Sgt. Randy Fincham told The Canadian Press that the department was aware of the Black Lives Matter letter and would work with parade organizers and others to make sure all concerns were answered.
"We continue to work with all communities to build a more inclusive Vancouver, and protect the rights of all those who live, work and play in the city," Fincham said.
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