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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP to review fatal Field train derailment investigation after evidence points to ‘cover up’

The derailment, which occurred on Feb. 4, 2019, killed three men from Calgary

Kicking Horse Update, Wednesday January 29

Kicking Horse reports 1 cm of snow in the last 24 hours,… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Wednesday January 29

DriveBC reports limited visibility with fog between Glacier National Park western boundary… Continue reading

Chuck Wright to take over Golden Rockets bench

The Rockets “terminated” Jeremy Blumes as head coach of the Golden Rockets Jr. B. on Jan. 27

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

‘Critically low’ caribou population prompts wolf cull in the Chilcotin

Itcha-Ilgachuz herd numbers down to 385, from 2,800 in 2003

Off-duty B.C. Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Family hopes Britain can get pregnant B.C. woman out of China’s coronavirus epicentre

Lauren Williams, who is about 35 weeks pregnant, has been stuck in Wuhan

Caregiver, society charged in death of developmentally disabled B.C. woman

The victim was not given the ‘necessities of life,’ police said

B.C. councillor runs afoul of Coastal GasLink protester

Northern pipeline not a Maple Ridge issue, insists Coun. Gordy Robson

Most Read