WASHINGTON, July 4, 2016 — The “we are more important than you” demands of Black Lives Matter has gone global as activists shut down Canada’s largest gay pride parade on Sunday. Demands of the BLM group include more funding to the group (see item 3 below), the hiring of BLM members to the Toronto Pride organization, and the exclusion of Toronto police, which is openly accepting of gay police offers, from future events.
The group was invited to march in the annual gay-rights parade, but still felt they needed to “shut it down”, starting that chant about two-thirds into the route, lighting several flares and presenting their demands..
The parade didn’t re-start until Mathieu Chantelois, organizer of the parade and executive director of Pride Toronto, signed off on BLM’s demands that included excluding police floats in future parades despite police support for the parade and allowing a more prominent representation of LBGQT people of color.
The head of the Toronto police Union said that Pride organizers were wrong to bow to the demands of the BLM group Sunday, tweeting, “Shame on Pride organizers,” while Black Lives Matter organizers cite “anti-Black racism” by reducing the visibility of gay people of color in the march.
Parade organizers are pushing back on some of the demands they agreed to, saying that the agreement was quick to get the parade moving again.
“Frankly, Black Lives Matter isn’t going to tell us there’s no more floats in the parade,” Chantelois told CP24, saying he’s open to having a conversation with the activist group, but won’t commit to barring police from the parade.
“That’s the kind of decision that needs to be made by the community.”
Many have already criticized Black Lives Matter’s push to keep police officers out of Pride events. In an open letter to the Pride Toronto group, Chuck Krangle, who is gay and a police officer wrote:
“Police officers are significantly represented in the LGBTQ community and it would be unacceptable to alienate and discriminate against them and those who support them. They too struggled to gain a place and workplace free from discrimination and bias.
“I do not speak for the police, and I do not speak for the LGBTQ community. I speak as an individual, one who saw his first Pride, only to be excluded from the next.
Exclusion does not promote inclusion. “
While the BLM-Toronto group was an invited guest to the parade, it was not enough for the group which, without making any demands prior to the parade, intentionally disrupted the parade saying they had a “clear intention” to use its honorary status in the parade as a platform for a protest.
“When we accepted this year’s Honoured Group status from Pride Toronto, it was with the clear intention of using this platform to address what is a historical and current culture of anti-Blackness deeply embedded in the Festival,” Ms. Williams said in a statement. “If they truly want to honour us, they can accept these demands.”
— BlackLivesMatter TO (@BLM_TO) July 3, 2016
Even though groups like Pride are friendly with BLM goals and are making strides toward being aware of BLM and their demands, they are targets of BLM protests and the disruption of their rights to broadcast their message. BLM’s actions are particularly troublesome when their target is an already disenfranchised group. BLM’s actions beg watchers to ask, what are the true motivations of BLM?
In 2008, then candidate Barack Obama addressed homophobia among African-Americans in a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church, saying
“If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been as true to King’s vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.”
Why does BLM target groups that are supportive of and inclusive of LBGQT persons, disrupting their rights rather than joining in the celebration, and joining in moments of remembrance for those murdered at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando?
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 4, 2016
The group has notably shut down speeches from Democratic primary candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.