Local advocacy groups are celebrating Halifax Regional Police’s decision to step back from the Halifax Pride parade.
“I applaud HRP’s decision,” said Ardath Whynacht — board member of Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP). “With this, HRP has given us the space we need as a community to organize against those larger issues of racism in Halifax.”
Áine Morse, NSRAP’s co-chair of the board of directors, agreed. “It’s a really big deal towards making the Festival more welcoming,” said Morse.
The decision was announced by HRP and Halifax Pride on Feb. 6.
This comes amidst a broader discussion about racism in policing.
Last summer during the Pride Parade in Toronto, Black Lives Matter presented a list of demands, including to ban official police floats from the marches.
Chief Mark Saunders announced in a statement released this morning, that the Toronto Police will not participate in this year’s Pride Parade.
And HRP released information last month that showed black people were three times more likely to be stopped by police than white individuals.
The police have decided to “step back” and “participate in more meaningful ways,” said Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais, according to previous coverage in The Signal.
On Twitter some people expressed disagreement.
¨This is not acceptable, you are destroying our community,” said Jake Rafuse on Twitter. “Shame on you all. Police deserve to stand beside me.”
Kate Sherwan, executive director of LGBT organization The Youth Project, said that the backlash is shortsighted.
“Marching in the parade is a symbolic gesture of acceptance,” she said. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you do treat the community well.”