A community consultation on the role of police in the Victoria Pride Parade received feedback from more than 500 people, and led to the decision to ban uniformed police officers from participating. (Black Press Media file photo)

Police uniforms banned from Victoria Pride Parade

Following in footsteps of Vancouver, police can participate – but without uniforms

For the first time in VicPD history, officers are celebrating Victoria Pride Week with rainbow-coloured ‘Victoria Police’ patches. Chief Del Manak posted to Twitter on Sunday saying the new patches will be worn to “to show our love and support for the LGBTQ2+ community.”

But while the Victoria Police Department is showing its pride this year, the relationship between police and pride organizations remains contentious across North America – with some organizations embracing police presence in local celebrations and others rejecting it entirely, citing historical violence and oppression the LGBTQ2+ community faced at the hands of law enforcement.

READ ALSO: Victoria Pride Society questions police presence in upcoming Victoria Pride Parade

READ ALSO: Alt Pride calls for zero police presence at Victoria Pride Parade

In Toronto and Vancouver, uniformed police officers are barred from participating in the yearly pride parade.

In Victoria, queer and allied police can participate – via the Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) – but this year the Victoria Pride Society (VPS) is following in the larger cities’ footsteps: participating officers won’t be allowed to wear uniforms.

In January, Victoria’s Alt Pride organization asked VPS to completely bar police involvement in the upcoming, 26th annual pride parade.

Soon after, VPS undertook a lengthy consultation process to gauge public input on police presence. More than 500 people provided feedback – overwhelmingly responding with the message that moving forward requires a deeper look at inclusivity and an overarching awareness that work still needs to be done for the city’s most marginalized populations.

“As a result of that consultation, we had discussions with DAC and we basically agreed that police officers would not be in uniform,” said Scott Daly, VPS communications coordinator.

“Our number one goal is to make the pride parade and pride in general as accessible as possible, especially to the most marginalized members of our community,” Daly said. “This is the 50th year since Stonewall. Pride was founded as a protest and it was led by the most marginalized – sex workers, people of colour, trans people.

“It is very important for pride to be welcoming.”

READ ALSO: Police uniforms, vehicles no longer allowed in Vancouver Pride parade

Daly is clear the decision isn’t about excluding LGBTQ2+ officers from the celebration, but about making sure everyone feels welcome and safe.

“It’s a recognition that there’s still a relationships that needs to be built between local police departments and marginalized communities,” he said. “I think as a community, we’re looking for ways we can move forward. There still is work to do to help our marginalized communities, who are over-represented in the homeless population, twice as likely to be the victim of a violent assault…have higher rates of PTSD.

“I think police have a role to play in improving those.

In response, the Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee (GVPDAC), the group that has worked with VPSand other community agencies since its inception in 2001 sent out a statement.

“As guests at the VPS event, we’re happy to participate in the manner that the organizers and community have told us they need us to. This year, we’re glad to not walk in uniform. It is our hope that doing so helps us all take another step towards fostering trust, improving communication, and building mutual understanding between our officers and staff and LGBTQ2S+ members of the Greater Victoria community we serve.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

7th annual Invermere Music Fest

A snapshot of the festival

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

Need cash to splash

Radium Sunrise Rotary Club wants to build a splash park in Radium Hot Springs

Kootenay National Park about to turn 100

Ninety-nine years of publicly-accessible wilderness

Kootenay Conservation Program develops online conservation tool

Online toolkit for Kootenay-based services and programs

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Most Read