Your recent letter re: Pride

Dear Chief Saunders,

I’m writing to express my disappointment after reading your recent open letter (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/chief-decries-pride-attacks-1.3670825), specifically in your dismissal of the actions taken by Black Lives Matter activists at the Toronto Pride parade.

You frame the BLM action as being motivated by a desire to “drive a wedge” between the TPS and the LGBTQ community. In saying this, you desregard the fact that black people and other people of colour are dying at the hands of police officers and for that reason their only relationship with TPS is one of fear. That is the wedge, and it already exists. You are making it worse by not acknowledging this reality in your letter.

I’m a white, cisgender gay man, and I support queer officers marching in the parade on their own time in plain clothes, and I also support officers working at the parade to keep the public safe. However, I think a TPS float serves only to divide the community and disenfranchise many members of it. The TPS is not a constituency that needs official representation in the parade. It is a public service with a complicated history and present. Let’s not confuse the rights of individual officers to march with the rights of a tax-payer-funded service to act as lobbyists and create a PR display at the expense of marginalized groups.

You claim you are “interested in dialogue.” Consider the actions by the BLM activists your invitation. By not referring to them by name and dismissing their action out-of-hand in your letter, it doesn’t inspire confidence that you will actually engage in any dialogue. I hope you will find a way to meet in good faith with BLM activists and talk about the very real issues they have raised, because ignoring (and refusing to name) a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Lastly, I would urge the TPS to voluntarily withdraw their floats from future Pride parades. The important dialogue started by the BLM action has revealed rifts in the LGBTQ community, and there is an opportunity for the TPS to make a healing gesture instead of further defensive posturing and denials. Please consider it.

Best

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