I’ve held off writing this for a couple of days because I wanted to calm down before I did so. By now you’ve no doubt heard or read of the stunt Black Lives Matter Toronto pulled during the annual Pride Parade last Sunday, July 3.
If you haven’t, here’s a synopsis of what occurred: Black Lives Matter had been invited to lead the Pride Parade this year. At a point about half-way through the route, at the intersection of Yonge Street and College Avenue in mid-town Toronto, they staged a sit-in. The purpose of this action was to have list of demands acceded to by “the powers that be”, but what it did do was piss off a lot of people and cost them whatever good will they had amassed. After 30 minutes of holding up the parade, the executive director of Pride Toronto signed their demands just to get things moving again.
There were many demands from what I could see in a brief screen shot of the document. Among them was a demand for greater representation of black queer youth on the Pride committee. Let’s take a look at this one before I continue on to the one that really had me worked up (still does, but I’m trying to contain my anger). As I understand it, Pride is a volunteer organisation. If there is a dearth of representation in any volunteer organisation from a particular segment of the population, that is usually because nobody from that group is stepping up to volunteer.. If BLM wants more black representation on the Pride committee, rather than demand it be made so, they should instead light a fire under the people they want to see on that committee so they will volunteer.
Their other major demand concerns law enforcement. In their written demands, they stated they don’t want police floats in the parade any more. LGBT members of the force can march in the parade, but not in uniform. An officer interviewed by several of the news reporters in Toronto indicated he was proud of both being gay and a cop. I’ve heard on the news since that BLM modified that demand and now want zero police presence at future Pride Parades, not even for security.
I originally thought the sit-in in was a foolish action, but this last statement just proves their stupidity knows no bounds. This parade attracts in the order of a million people watching it each year. Now, Toronto, and Canada, are usually very accepting, or at least tolerant, of LGBT people. Many of the people on the sidelines come from parts of the world – and yes, I’m looking south of the Great Lakes when I write this – where such tolerance isn’t quite as common. The police are there for crowd control. While it is only a possibility, can you see everything being as peaceful without the police presence? I’m going to jump to the extreme now with this “no law enforcement” thing BLM wants. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked the parade route accompanied by Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Justin was also accompanied by some bodyguards. Would BLM do away with them as well? After all, they are law enforcement.
I’ve seen BLM in action in Toronto before, during another sit-in outside police headquarters. As in the case at the Pride Parade, they seem to make demands they know can’t, or won’t, be met. At the demonstration in the spring, they wanted to know the names of two officers involved in a shooting. The officers were eventually cleared by the Special Investigations Unit, a provincial agency that investigates all cases involving police wjen there is serious injury or death. This time it’s the complete removal of all police from the Pride events. They know in advance that demands like this will be ignored, but that will give them another opportunity to scream “racism” when the demands are denied.
In an interview today, the executive director of Pride Toronto admits he only signed the paper to get the parade moving again. He also pointed out that Pride is much bigger than Black Lives Matter and his signature on that document means nothing until the committee can discuss the issue.
Staging their demonstration along the route to disrupt the parade served only to wash any credibility BLM had down the sewers at Yonge and College. That, coupled with the demands for more black representation and less (zero) police leads me to the conclusion they want to sabotage Pride Toronto. A bit of jealousy perhaps because Pride gets so much public attention while it seems only the media pay attention to them. I would be willing to put money on the possibility that Black Lives Matter isn’t invited back next year.
Yes, black lives matter – all lives matter. But tactics such as they’ve used in two separate demonstrations this year will only alienate, not attract, those people who they want to support them.