An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I’M DISAPPOINTED THAT POLICE won’t be walking in this year’s Kamloops Pride Parade.
The parade reflects the progress made in recognizing the LGBTQ community as an integral part of Kamloops. It began with a modest walk through the campus at Thompson Rivers University — and some people didn’t like it.
Last year it moved downtown and the day proved to be a major success. Attitudes are changing.
And yet, organizers of pride parades across the country are struggling with the presence of police. In Toronto, uniformed police have been banned from the parade for the past three years, thanks to the activist group Black Lives Matter and a serial-killer case that some think was mishandled.
Edmonton followed Toronto’s lead; so did Vancouver, Winnipeg and Calgary, and now Kamloops.
In those cities where uniformed officers are banned, they’re allowed to take part if they show up in civvies, and without their marked cars.
Look, it’s their parade and they can do what they want. I understand the need of participants to feel safe but there’s an unfortunate irony in the fact that police are there to make everyone safe yet are seen by some as doing the opposite.
In Kamloops and other cities, the LGBTQ community is quietly engaging with police to build trust, and that’s significant. But the presence of uniformed police departments in their parades would be a powerful symbol of inclusion and co-operation. And trust.
Some people still object to the whole idea of Pride Parades. They either think they shouldn’t be allowed or that there’s no need for them — as an editorialist said a couple of years ago, people shouldn’t be “strutting around and waving colourful flags.”
That kind of thinking only proves the need for Pride Parades. The greater the cross-section of identifiable groups showing their support by walking in those parades, the better.
And the sooner the organizers of the parades feel confident in welcoming uniformed police back, the better as well.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.