Why Black Lives Matter stopped the Toronto Pride Parade
July 6, 2016 8:57 AM   Subscribe

 
I was under the impression that Pride itself isn't political.
posted by fairmettle at 9:08 AM on July 6, 2016


That's a weird impression.
posted by bobloblaw at 9:10 AM on July 6, 2016 [48 favorites]


They should create a Cop Pride free expression zone a couple of blocks away from the parade.
posted by srboisvert at 9:15 AM on July 6, 2016 [42 favorites]


Progressive people are awesome at consuming and undermining each other. Such it seems to always be.
posted by transient at 9:17 AM on July 6, 2016 [86 favorites]


“It’s ‘You could never be a part of our community, you savage monkey,’ that kind of thing,” she said. “The reality is that gender and sexual diversity doesn’t negate the reality of racism and white privilege...In their minds my blackness made it so that I couldn’t possibly be a part of their community.”

I don't like telling people how to be whoever they are (I mean, as a cis white dude I don't have much to tell LGBTQ people about how to express their identity) but if you find yourself writing a letter like this maybe just put the pen down and ask yourself some questions about what you're trying to accomplish.
posted by GuyZero at 9:20 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes, yes, fear of being killed by the police is a "progressive stand".
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:20 AM on July 6, 2016 [30 favorites]


The Canadian iteration of this movement has not done a very good job engendering support, based on my vantage point in Ottawa. Protesting during the Pride parade has ensured it will be very difficult — though not impossible — to give them much consideration in the future.

Perhaps it is my own personal failing, but using a gay pride parade as a venue for protest tells me unkind things.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:21 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


According to a lot of white people on Twitter and Facebook who weren't even at the parade, this was the worst thing that ever happened anywhere.
posted by rocket88 at 9:22 AM on July 6, 2016 [70 favorites]


I don't think this has anything to do with undermining each other. It has to do with cops and racism.

If you're a marginalized gay person - especially if you're a person of color, or trans, or gender non-conforming, or poor - you don't get to be "gay" the way a rich white cis gay person does.

Either gayness is for all gay people, which means that any process that tramples some of us down has to go, or gayness is for just a small percentage of us and we can pretend that cops are fair to everyone and that there's a "neutral" way of being gay in the world that anyone can enjoy.

It's cops that don't belong in the parade. Being gay isn't a choice*, being a cop is.

If you and your friends were getting beat down by the cops, or if you had plausible reason to fear that they could shoot you dead at a traffic stop and get away with it, would you want to march in the parade with them?

Black Lives Matter is awesome, and it's because they tell uncomfortable truths that people are...uncomfortable with them.

*In sort of a complicated socio-historical way, of course.
posted by Frowner at 9:24 AM on July 6, 2016 [156 favorites]


I have a whole miasma of disjointed thoughts about this action, which I will admit up front really made me angry.

• Black gays/lesbians and black trans persons in particular have been marginalized by Pride observances. This should be changed.

• The presence of police in Pride parades across the world has been a major step forward for the Pride movement because for literally decades, even well into the Pride movement, the cops have been the enemy of queer folk. Having LGBTQ police march as part of Pride was a major deal when it first started happening. Having open support of local police departments was a major victory.

• The demands by the BLM people made on the Pride organizers is ridiculous because it is doubtful that the organization that creates Pride has any ability to do anything about funding for anything other than Pride.

• Black gays/lesbians and black trans persons in particular have been marginalized by Pride observances. This should be changed.

• Marginalized groups should be working together toward their common goals, not one group interrupting the ONE DAY A YEAR another group has to establish a public presence that they have literally fought decades to have.

• Big City Pride Events have become entirely too Corporate in nature and need to get back to their grassroots founding energy. The best Prides I have attended have all been in smaller cities or towns.

• Why isn't BLM working to organize their own yearly marches instead of co-opting those of others? Queers have worked for nearly 50 years for days like this, and while I have more than a bit of sympathy for the BLM movement, they need to do their own work.

• Black gays/lesbians and black trans persons in particular have been marginalized by Pride observances. This should be changed.

How many Fourth Of July parades in the US were halted by BLM activities? How many Canada Day parades? I haven't read of any. Seems like those would have been better targets to get some of these messages out. Targeting the LGBTQ community and its ONE DAY A YEAR felt like a really nasty maneuver. That has really made me angry.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 AM on July 6, 2016 [108 favorites]


Ah, QuAIA and Kulanu (the Toronto Jewish gay group). So much argh - and even worse if you're in the queer Jewish community. In 2013, I remember my rabbi being annoyed at both of them for trying to turn Pride into an Israel-Palestine debate. I wasn't comfortable marching under Israeli flags that day; another Jewish friend was kicked out of Kulanu because he is not Zionist (though he is also not anti-Zionist).

Pride is political and always has been political. But the QuAIA/Kulanu split shows that just because we all agree on issue a, it doesn't mean we all agree on issue b. My own synagogue was split by the QuAIA/Kulanu debate. (We're split on most things about Israel - we're a big tent for a small shul. But we try to all respect each other and our experiences).

This year, Kulanu seems to have taken a very different approach. Instead of carrying mostly Israel flags, they carried rainbow flags emblazoned with the white Magen David. It brought the focus away from Israel/Palestine and back to why my synagogue was marching: religious support for LBGTQ rights.

We will be proudly displaying that flag at our Pride Shabbat Services next year (and for years to come -- and not just because someone spilled wine on the flag we had been using as a table cloth).

I would like to see Pride be a big tent. I support Black Live Matter and agree with many of their criticisms about how Pride has been developing; I also actively support LGBTQ police marching in uniform. I don't see these as incompatible, though I know balancing the rights and needs of different people is difficult and no one can ever be perfectly pleased.
posted by jb at 9:25 AM on July 6, 2016 [21 favorites]


Protesting during the Pride parade has ensured it will be very difficult — though not impossible — to give them much consideration in the future.

If only they'd been quieter activists. If only fewer people had been inconvenienced by their actions. Then they'd definitely have a better chance of achieving their aims.

God, I love respectability politics.
posted by mhoye at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2016 [74 favorites]


I'm just so fucking mad the last few days that so few people seem to have any empathy for people with different perspectives than them. I have seen subtle and not so subtle racism out of columnists, internet randoms, facebook acquaintances and even friends. I am glad I have so many smart and compassionate friends who are out there in the muck fighting for what's right because I definitely do not have the temperament for it. Stuff I've seen over the past few days and weeks has deeply wounded my faith in humanity. At least I can look at those I know who are passionately defending and amplifying disadvantaged voices.

Personally Pride is super political and definitely should be. We are not in a utopia because a bank sticks hot dudes in their ads and panders to our $. We are not finished fighting because white dudes can get away with holding hands in urban areas. Personally I don't mind corporate support of Pride, I'm all for all the allies we can get. Personally I think a police PR presence at these events is overall a good thing. I just want inclusion, understanding and empathy. But I am a white dude from an advantaged background, and I know my privilege has allowed me to live a sheltered and naive life. So when those without these advantages protest I make sure to cheer them on, listen, think, promote inclusion and discussion, and amplify their voices. The fact that so few people can manage this bare minimum of human decency has really shaken me.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2016 [42 favorites]


Why isn't BLM working to organize their own yearly marches instead of co-opting those of others? Queers have worked for nearly 50 years for days like this, and while I have more than a bit of sympathy for the BLM movement, they need to do their own work.

Black Lives Matter Toronto is led by and organized by queer and trans black people. They may choose to highlight their blackness front and center for very good reasons, but that doesn't detract from the fact that they are a queer group. That's why they were the honored group at Pride Toronto.

I mean, it's a little strange to me that you spend so much of your post talking about black intersectionality without realizing that black people have their own intersectional movements going on? And that's why they're in queer spaces - because they're queer themselves?
posted by Conspire at 9:29 AM on July 6, 2016 [121 favorites]


there seems to be, as in other things in the queer community, a rather marked split between queer poc and white queers.

quelle surprise
posted by qcubed at 9:30 AM on July 6, 2016 [19 favorites]




It seems like kicking Jews and the police out of Pride might not necessarily be in keeping with the avowed spirit of Pride. It should be reassuring though that LGBT-etc groups are feeling sufficiently accepted and supported that they can begin considering alienating allies and culling politically problematic supporters.
posted by perhapsolutely at 9:31 AM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's especially egregious when white queer people talk about Pride being "their" movement when it's so strongly been PoC at the front and fore of these movements historically. But sure, now that it's all a party, go ahead and erase us and our efforts to pull it back to its political context in the very real face of marginalization that queer PoC face.
posted by Conspire at 9:32 AM on July 6, 2016 [59 favorites]


That said: there has been an unfortunate myth going around, that white gay men don't know what it's like to fear the police, or haven't known oppression.

It hasn't even been 20 years since the marine police were ignoring people attacking swimmers at Hanlan's - mostly queer men - with jet skis. Men just a little older than me have all known the trauma of the plague years -- it wasn't just a few in their community who died, but so many. A friend of mine likened it to that dinosaur comic, "All my friends are dead," only for him it is literal.

Intersectionality is real and important - but it doesn't always work how people think. I even saw some media person claiming that white gay men had it easier than white lesbians. But in Toronto, that isn't true. I am a queer woman who looks queer - and I have never been so much as harassed. Most queer women I know have, at most, had rude comments. Most queer men I know have been physically assaulted. Women make less money than men, we have less representation in institutions, but when it comes to homophobia, we're also more ignored.
posted by jb at 9:33 AM on July 6, 2016 [31 favorites]


The first pride was a riot against the cops, the cops are not our friends, and the state is not benificent.

Stonewall was a riot protesting police brutality, yes. But that's part of why it is a beneficial thing to have the police be clear about their support and embrace of the GLBT community now.

Maintaining the us-vs.-them attitude towards the cops is simply not going to solve the problems that BLM wants to solve. Police-community relations break down when police don't see themselves/aren't seen as part of the community. I'm not saying that BLM shouldn't be protesting, but I do think that demanding that cops not be involved in community events is the wrong ask, when what is really needed is for cops to stop mistreating PoC.

All that being said -- anyone claiming that BLM shouldn't protest at pride because "pride is not political" is a moron.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2016 [27 favorites]


there should never be police floats in the pride parade. if gay police want to march, they can find another group to do it through. pride should not be divorced from its inception. this is a line that shouldn't have been crossed.
posted by nadawi at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2016 [32 favorites]


Black Lives Matter Toronto is led by and organized by queer and trans black people. They may choose to highlight their blackness front and center for very good reasons, but that doesn't detract from the fact that they are a queer group. That's why they were the honored group at Pride Toronto.

I mean, it's a little strange to me that you spend so much of your post talking about black intersectionality without realizing that black people have their own intersectional movements going on? And that's why they're in queer spaces - because they're queer themselves?


Perhaps it's a difference that comes from crossing the 49th Parallel, but in the US, BLM is not a queer movement, and what they are being activists about is not in the majority queer matters.
posted by hippybear at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


SF Mayor Lee among politicians booed off stage at Pride Trans March: “I'm a trans woman who has a lot of trans friends, who are homeless and I'm tired of people using our community as a political prop,” Love added.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, the further this kind of thing goes, the more I realize that Black Lives Matter is the best name for, uh, Black Lives Matter. It's about whose lives matter.

If we're saying "what's really important is that we have this nice parade where we make nice with the police and ignore economic inequality and ignore who has access and folding money and who is welcome and who is not* then we're saying "our emotional comfort is more important than your material suffering".

It sucks, I get that. I too like to pretend that spaces that are inclusive to me are inclusive to everyone, and I don't always put the pressure on my pretense that I should. But if someone comes and says "this is a pretense, we are not safe or welcome here even though you claim we are" you have to address that.

In terms of white gay men and the police: Look, white gay men who know what it's like to fear the police need to step up their solidarity then. I agree that this kind of thing (just like "transmasculine people have it totally easy!!!!" which I hear a lot) do not reflect the lived experience of a lot of people. But if it doesn't reflect our lived experience, we have to act like it doesn't, not just get in the way when other people are protesting.

*And honestly, I didn't go to Pride this year because last year - I shit you not - I had an incredibly anti-lesbian, anti-gender-non-conforming, homophobic encounter with young women who were there with their gay friends. I mean, I'm not a lesbian, but they read me as a butch woman and that's why they were hassling me. Pride does not make me feel welcome and included, frankly, so I totally sympathize with people who don't feel that great there.
posted by Frowner at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2016 [56 favorites]


Asking people to step up and serve the entire community is hardly "undermining" or "consuming" each other. It's the right thing to do. We have an obligation to serve and protect the most disadvantaged.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:37 AM on July 6, 2016 [23 favorites]


just a few weeks before the parade, a white gay male friend of a friend was bashed in the middle of the Annex, a "progressive" neighbourhood. White gay men know for violence.
posted by jb at 9:38 AM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's a difference that comes from crossing the 49th Parallel, but in the US, BLM is not a queer movement, and what they are being activists about is not in the majority queer matters.

many of the american blm leaders and activists are queer and speak on that quite often.
posted by nadawi at 9:39 AM on July 6, 2016 [35 favorites]


In my part of the US, BLM is hugely a queer movement, that's not even in question. BLM events are one of the few things I've been to that keeps the intersectionality front and center - it's always "Black lives matter/trans lives matter" "Black lives matter/queer lives matter" around here. I've never been to events that do as much to make intersectionality visible, ever.
posted by Frowner at 9:39 AM on July 6, 2016 [53 favorites]


also: the pendant in me wants to point out

the first pride was the march organised a month after the riot, and then a year later on the anniversary. They wouldn't have happened without the riot, but we wouldn't remember the riot the same way without them.
posted by jb at 9:39 AM on July 6, 2016


Perhaps it's a difference that comes from crossing the 49th Parallel, but in the US, BLM is not a queer movement, and what they are being activists about is not in the majority queer matters.

Are we gonna be defending the tyranny of the (white) majority here?
posted by qcubed at 9:40 AM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


just a few weeks before the parade, a white gay male friend of a friend was bashed in the middle of the Annex, a "progressive" neighbourhood. White gay men know for violence.

Nobody is saying they don't. But it's not wrong to say that PoC and trans communities are being decimated.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:40 AM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Perhaps it's a difference that comes from crossing the 49th Parallel, but in the US, BLM is not a queer movement

The founders of the whole thing (or at least some of them) are queer. See also what happened in SF - why BLM was part of Pride in the first place and why they chose to withdraw.
posted by atoxyl at 9:43 AM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Perhaps it's a difference that comes from crossing the 49th Parallel, but in the US, BLM is not a queer movement, and what they are being activists about is not in the majority queer matters.

Black Lives Matter was founded and is run by queer women.
posted by animalrainbow at 9:44 AM on July 6, 2016 [59 favorites]


Also, for pete's sake, did BLM literally cancel Pride and everyone had to go home?

Even if folks don't agree with what went down, maybe focus on the parts of Pride that you did enjoy? And make some notes about how you were present at a mildly historically significant event? Since it seems likely that you are not actually thinking "antiBlack racism is totally fine" but are instead thinking "this was an interruption and I wish it could have gone differently", perhaps just write this one off to thirty minutes that you'll never get back?

Going to go donate to BLM now, thx.
posted by Frowner at 9:45 AM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: I'm up in the centre of it all (in TO, organiser in 2 different queer groups), and many people are saying just that. A media person explicitly said that gay white men have it better than white lesbians. And my point is, maybe, when it comes to their advantages as men. But the homophobia they receive is all the worse for the fact that they are men.

There has been a lot of very ignorant rhetoric about white gay men up here, and a lot of ignorance of their very recent history.
posted by jb at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Asking people to step up and serve the entire community is hardly "undermining" or "consuming" each other.

There are different ways to do that than to stop a parade of allies for a half an hour.
posted by transient at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Once again--and I should make t-shirts of this--I stand behind: "Intersectionality or GTFO."

I'm not sorry they interrupted Pride; I'm sorry that they are being lambasted in ugly ugly ways from a community and its supporters that should know better. Empathy should not be in deficit.
posted by Kitteh at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2016 [27 favorites]


Maintaining the us-vs.-them attitude towards the cops is simply not going to solve the problems that BLM wants to solve.

Cops executing black people is maintaining us-vs-them.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2016 [46 favorites]


the police are not part of my community, and they will never be. corrections canada is not part of my community. they damage my community with their presence. (to be intersectional--queer but also mental health)
posted by PinkMoose at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


White men *DO* have it better than white women. Who have it better than black women. And all cis people have it better than trans people. These things are actual facts.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2016 [23 favorites]


And my point is, maybe, when it comes to their advantages as men. But the homophobia they receive is all the worse for the fact that they are men.

It isn't a competition, and letting people make it one doesn't help.
posted by Etrigan at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Either gayness is for all gay people, which means that any process that tramples some of us down has to go, or gayness is for just a small percentage of us and we can pretend that cops are fair to everyone and that there's a "neutral" way of being gay in the world that anyone can enjoy.

It's cops that don't belong in the parade. Being gay isn't a choice*, being a cop is.


These statements seem to be in tension, because if gayness really is for all gay people, it's for gay people who choose to be cops. If you're happy with a process that tramples down gay people who make that choice, I think you can certainly defend that position, but I don't see how you can defend it and also claim that you believe in supporting all gay people.

To me, there's a difference between declining to include police organizations in the parade--which seems to be the position expressed in the BLM demand to remove "police floats/booths" from Pride events--and barring participation by individual cops.
posted by layceepee at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


"There are different ways to do that to stop a parade of allies for a half an hour."

If those "different ways" worked, it wouldn't be necessary to stop a parade.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2016 [24 favorites]


METAFILTER: I have a whole miasma of disjointed thoughts about this
posted by philip-random at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


There are different ways to do that that stop a parade of allies for a half an hour.

Oh my god, the horror! The terror!

They stopped a parade? For a whole half an hour!?

I can't even imagine the death and carnage and property damage that must have resulted from this outrageous act!
posted by jacquilynne at 9:49 AM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


I mean, it should be noted that right now, there are cops with machine guns standing outside the Stonewall Bar in New York, because a month ago someone killed 49 mostly Black and Latinx queer people. And that people will not go into the Stonewall Bar, not because of what happened at Pulse, but because there are cops with machine guns outside.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2016 [23 favorites]


There is an awful lot of racism in the queer community. But the Prides I've been to have always been more inclusive, and one of the few places where poc and transgender and circuit boys mix. Is Toronto different?

If only fewer people had been inconvenienced by their actions.

Alternately, if only more people had been convinced by their actions. This seems a step backwards. We need to change police culture, and police involvement in Prides is a major step in that direction.
posted by kanewai at 9:50 AM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are different ways to do that to stop a parade of allies for a half an hour.

Because we all know that the only approved ways of lodging complaints with a bigoted system is to do it in a manner that appeases the bigots.

Which is to say, to sit down and shut the fuck up, isn't that right?
posted by qcubed at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2016 [23 favorites]


I am so angry, and so heartbroken about this whole thing, and it's just eating me alive... and nobody wants to talk about it.

Wait? Isn't everybody talking about it?

No. No, everybody's talking around it. Everybody's talking about stupid subsidiary questions that fall aside almost as soon as you start addressing it properly:

- Is Pride political? Obviously. It's a platform for myriad political and social issues and contending views. Always has been.

- What do x or y powerful official leaders who obviously can't speak their minds in public say? Who cares? They can't speak their minds in public because they're going to be engaging in all sorts of negotiations.

- Did BLM Toronto 'hijack' the parade? Irrelevant. They were asked to be there; they did their (stupid, stupid) thing. They got their point across to the people who like them anyway, and got the opposite point across to everybody else.

What are the real questions? Well understanding that relies on understanding facts-on-the-ground that nobody is addressing because they're so distracted by the above questions. Here are some of the things that nobody's talking about:

1. Insiders in Pride TO are starting to make it clear (within the community) that they were sympathetic with most of these demands before the parade. That's why they invited BLM to be there. But now, given what I'm about to talk about, they feel like it's much more difficult to implement these reforms. If they do, thousands of their core supporters -- who presently feel scorned, hurt and condescended to -- will think that they're giving way to threats of force.

2. This is because, in part, the BLM protest is being seen not as a peaceful demonstration, or even as a vigorous, righteous action, but as an act of physical violence that hurt thousands of people.

What does that mean?

Toronto's Pride Parade is big. Thousands of people take part, hundreds of thousands watch. The number of marchers is far too great to fit into the 'marshalling areas' where people line up to march, so the marchers are told to arrive at a certain time. The marshalling areas are supposed to empty as more people arrive.

However, this year something went badly wrong. By 2:15, the marshalling areas started to become dangerously overcrowded. I was there (sorry rocket88) and it was pretty scary. By 3 pm it was very scary. Thousands of people were standing in the relentless sun, and in places the crowds were packing in so that we were shoulder to shoulder. People were starting to get sick. The crowds were too big to safely disperse. None of the marshals seemed to have the ability to communicate with either the police or the people running the parade further down. A potential disaster was building.

Some time after this, the rumour started to filter through that crowd that BLM Toronto had stopped the parade. The traffic jam was trapping us there. The heat and humidity was intense. I understood it was a dangerous situation, but because I was so addle-brained I didn't see a safe way out. I've always wondered why the victims of Hillsborough didn't just climb the security fence to get away from the crush. Now I know.

After two to three hours, the traffic began to clear. Most of my group (some of whom are elderly, queer Jews, who know for discrimination) left the parade with heat exhaustion. I remember one lady, in particular, who had decided to march with us even though she'd recently come out of hip surgery. She thought it was so important to be there for her community and to honour the Orlando victims. Obviously, she couldn't march with us after she escaped from that crush. She tells me she was all right by the next day, but I think she was just trying to make me feel better.

Looking back, I can't forgive myself for failing to see the danger, and when I saw the danger failing to get my people out of it. Yes, only a few of the people who were under my care got sick enough to have to go home. But what if somebody in that crowd (G'd forbid!) had started pushing. There would have been a bloodbath. I led them into that danger.

And I blame myself. But I also think there's lots of blame to go around. The cops didn't control the crowds properly. Pride TO failed to plan for this contingency. And whether or not they actually caused the crush (and that is not at all clear), the BLM protest very well might have prolonged it and made it seriously worse. And lots of people who were there now assume it was all caused by BLM and they were to blame.

But here's the thing: I'm wracking my soul with guilt, Pride TO is locked in emergency meetings, BLM is crowing about their victory. Here's what they tweeted yesterday:
"The community & allies supported our actions. 2 those who felt inconvenienced, be better. @PrideToronto needs 2 be better. #blackpride"
"Be better" in this context, does not mean "get well soon". It means "you should be a better person than one who's angry merely because we put thousands of people in danger and made hundreds of people sick".

I want to be better, but I can't. I can't get over my anger and hurt. I can't accept that my experiences were necessary for their, apparently pyrrhic, victory. And I can't accept, as all of my friends want me to, that these events simply didn't happen and that it was all just a minor inconvenience.

Well I'm going to leave off with this:

About 18 years ago I was turned from a vague supporter of LGBT+ rights to someone deeply interested in LGBT activism when I saw an unconscionable act of police brutality against a group of gay men. Since that time, I've been so proud to see how those LGBT+ activists have solved this problem by reaching out to the cops with love, understanding, persuasion and help to change. The day before all this happened, I saw one of the BLM activists pouring scorn on the crowd after the Dyke march, and I couldn't help thinking "well this person is not exactly a political genius".

Maybe there is a redemptive lesson in all of this. Maybe those BLM activists will realise they have to start learning, from their elders who've been through all this before, how to make activism effect change rather than merely garner attention. Because maybe, as people keep telling me, they don't want allies. Well they certainly made that come true.

No minority in history every won by standing up for itself. I mean, that's a start, and it feel so empowering, but that's all it does. You can't win by standing up for yourself if you're a minority.

You have to get everybody else to stand up with you.
posted by Dreadnought at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2016 [91 favorites]


It's cops that don't belong in the parade.

This is not a universally held opinion in Canada. The cops being in the parade is very powerful in my view, a statement of contrition and reconciliation. Rejecting that as a path forward by BLM rejects a future where rapprochement is possible.
posted by bonehead at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


The police in Toronto are just now apologizing for bath house raids in the 70's and early 80's. They haven't said a word about the same kind of raids that happened as recently as 2000. Those raids from the 70's can be swept aside because no one who led them is still on the force. but the ones from a decade and a half ago?

The police (as an org, not as LGBT individuals) are using pride to pink-wash themselves instead of making any amends for how they've treated the community. In Toronto there is a lot of distrust of the police, for everything from carding to G20. But they still get to show up at things like the pride parade and pretend for a few hours they're on our side. No thanks.
posted by thecjm at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2016 [32 favorites]


I had to do a bunch of digging to find the text of the actual demands themselves, so if anyone is curious here they are.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Maybe those BLM activists will realise they have to start learning, from their elders who've been through all this before, how to make activism effect change rather than merely garner attention.

It makes me sad how far you are from the point.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2016 [27 favorites]


the police are not part of my community, and they will never be.

It must be a privilege to never need to live in fear of crime. The rest of us however, do like the idea of a public police force (at least more than we like the idea of roving bands of vigilantes).

It's possible to acknowledge the police as public servants and community members while at the same time demanding that they do a better job of serving the most vulnerable members of the community (by, you know, for example, not shooting them all the time).
posted by sparklemotion at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


Maintaining the us-vs.-them attitude towards the cops is simply not going to solve the problems that BLM wants to solve.

Here's a horrifying fun fact: of the 14,000 homicides recorded in the US last year, 80% were committed by someone the victim knew. Of the remaining 2800, between 1000 and 1200 (depends whose numbers you use, since of course there's no official national registry) of them were committed by law enforcement.

To recap: if you're going to be murdered by someone you don't know, the chances are about 40% that it's going to be by a cop. Not random gang violence, not home-invasions-gone-wrong, or whatever other paranoid fantasy is the obsession du jour on the right. A cop. Because there's no canonical source for raw data, it's impossible to break down the numbers precisely, but that number is much much higher if you're black, and much lower if you're white.

I'd say it's been us-versus-them for a long time now.
posted by Mayor West at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2016 [67 favorites]


[Folks, this is by its nature a complicated discussion and one that folks have strong feelings about along more than one vector; it's gonna be hard to talk about for basically the same reasons it's important to talk about, but if we're gonna discuss it here that's gonna need everybody to be willing to buy in to not treating this as a scrap or as the continuation of an argument they may understandably be exhausted by having had in other venues.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]




Ok, so this is kind of my point; it's not about how long the parade was stopped. I'm concerned about people who largely have the same interests butting heads instead of cooperating. And here I am on Metafilter expressing those concerns, and folks who, I believe, largely share my views, start attacking me for relatively benign comments.

This is how we will lose.
posted by transient at 9:58 AM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


White men *DO* have it better than white women. Who have it better than black women. And all cis people have it better than trans people. These things are actual facts.

But if you read my comment, you would see that it is not that simple. Gay men of all races face more real violence than cis women - and less then trans women. Homophobia and transphobia is - in my city, at least - substantially more violent against queer people assigned male at birth (cis or trans) than against queer cis women. (I don't know what it is like for trans masculine people - just telling my experience, as a gender non-conforming but cis-passing afab).
posted by jb at 9:58 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have been a regular victim of crime. the cops have not helped. (As recently as last week). they have done damage.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:59 AM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


It makes me sad how far you are from the point.

So please tell me, what is the point?

Is it that BLM was ignored by Pride? Is it that 'activism works'? Is it that racist people who don't want progress are also, opportunistically, using the BLM protest against all of us? Or is it something else that I'm totally missing?
posted by Dreadnought at 9:59 AM on July 6, 2016


Maybe those BLM activists will realise they have to start learning, from their elders who've been through all this before, how to make activism effect change rather than merely garner attention.

Transforming the history of disruptive protests that got people mad and got protestors attacked and/or killed into anodyne "Can't we all just love each other?" speeches is an intentional act by people who were (and remain) on the wrong side of history.
posted by Etrigan at 9:59 AM on July 6, 2016 [26 favorites]


It should be reassuring though that LGBT-etc groups are feeling sufficiently accepted and supported that they can begin considering alienating allies and culling politically problematic supporters.

It's great that we have a venue where we can show that both a subset of police and BLM are part of our community and can walk together to a better and more open, inclusive, humane future. We seem to have done much better working collectively as a community, not as a set of fractured groups with different agendas. But both groups have people who get to voice their opinions and criticisms, and that should be encouraged.

If it ever gets to the point where we actually act on excluding queer people and closing them out, some who are trying to do a better job of protecting us — and it is pretty clear the relationship between LGBTQ people and police in various cities is getting better, nowhere near perfect, but at least somewhat better, because of openness and inclusiveness — then we're kind of missing the point of what Pride is about, in the first place.

I'd rather have uncloseted, openly-queer police officers walking with all of us in Pride, working out the ongoing dialogue of what needs improvement, than have them back in the closet and silent. Those days really need to be in our past. Shutting those folks out helps none of our community in the long term, BLM leadership included.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:01 AM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Over in a different thread here people were getting all angrified that BLM activists at San Francisco Pride, who had been chosen as grand marshals, decided simply to withdraw and they said why. They didn't demand anybody else do anything, but people here (mefi, SF) got all boo-hoo how can you protest Pride! I mean, come on.

The contingent I marched in - headed by a grand marshal chosen for his longtime AIDS activism - we had frickin' die-ins: we blocked the parade for several minutes at a time over the entire route while we lay down in the street and drew chalk body outlines around the "dead" people. Just like the old days! You know who's mad at us for that? NOBODY.
posted by rtha at 10:02 AM on July 6, 2016 [47 favorites]


I'd rather have uncloseted, openly-queer police officers walking with all of us in Pride, working out the ongoing dialogue of what needs improvement, than have them back in the closet and silent.

Is it your opinion that openly queer police officers are only out because they get to march in a parade? Because otherwise, there's a lot of middle ground between your two options.
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


it seems weird to complain about blm condescending to 'the community' (of which it still seems people refuse to acknowledge the significant queer blm numbers) and then later in the same comment say they need to learn from their elders how real activism works.
posted by nadawi at 10:04 AM on July 6, 2016 [31 favorites]


Police-community relations break down when police don't see themselves/aren't seen as part of the community.

85% of Toronto police officers live in Barrie. Toronto police aren't seen as part of the community, and don't see themselves as part of the community, because they are not part of the community.
posted by mhoye at 10:05 AM on July 6, 2016 [46 favorites]


The response in the Canadian media to the BLM protest was, at best, comical:

These are the “experts" CBC News quoted in a story about a Black Lives Matter protest
posted by My Dad at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


So please tell me, what is the point?

The point is that life-saving activism, even when, and especially when it inconveniences other people, is never wrong.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:07 AM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


It strikes me as odd that all of the white people here debating whether Black Lives Matter is sufficiently queer or not are not applying the same logic to mainstream Pride, calling it out as a space that is only for white, cis, able-bodied people. In fact, you can clearly see from the politics in each respective sphere that the argument actually applies even more strongly for Pride than it could ever apply to BLM. Pride claims to be for all queer people, but it leaves it at that. It couches inclusion as a neutral statement. But equity is decidedly not neutral. The cops were in the parade; black queer people are now marginalized. There were no interpreters at the trans march this year for Pride; trans Deaf people are now shuttled out. Silently and unnoticed by privilege, Pride pushes out queer people who do not align with privilege; and they still get away with saying that it's for "all queer" people, because we are so accustomed to seeing white queer people as default now, that the shaping of Pride to suit their needs rather than everyone's needs goes unnoticed.

Yet, BLM subverts this strategy. They do this by inverting the status quo, and putting the needs of the most marginalized members of the community at the forefront. Look at their list of demands. Queer black people are on it. Trans black people on it. Hell, even Deaf black people are on it - do you know how fucking rare it is for a movement to give voice to Deaf people? They even extend their demands to other PoC - they advocate for the needs of South Asians on their list too.

That is why Black Lives Matter is a queer group, and that is why it makes white queer people uncomfortable. Instead of letting marginalized people fade into the background as inconvenient hindrances and afterthoughts, they actively label what is going on and actively work to bring them to the forefront. They put the most marginalized people, who are most in need of space and voice in the front, so everyone else can work to uplift them - they set priorities.

Confront your fucking racism, white people. It's not BLM's fault that you are squirming in your seats at having to look at the people you are pushing out for 30 minutes in your whole damned month.
posted by Conspire at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2016 [88 favorites]


I'm a white gay male who was attacked nine years ago by an unleashed police dog that nearly tore my right arm off in a neighborhood drug raid. I feel more resonance with BLM and its demands than I do with the idea that gay white people are entitled to throw temper tantrums because their "one day a year" of corporate-co-opted partying and alcohol consumption is interrupted by political action from people whose family members and loved ones are being shot and murdered in the streets on a daily basis by unhinged nutjobs wearing police uniforms.

BLM makes me uncomfortable. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable. That's kind of the point.

The contingent I marched in - headed by a grand marshal chosen for his longtime AIDS activism - we had frickin' die-ins: we blocked the parade for several minutes at a time over the entire route while we lay down in the street and drew chalk body outlines around the "dead" people. Just like the old days! You know who's mad at us for that? NOBODY.


Exactly.
posted by blucevalo at 10:11 AM on July 6, 2016 [77 favorites]


So it seems reasonable to talk about whether - going forward, as a tactic! - interrupting a very large parade on a very hot day is a great strategy. If it's actually creating a dangerous crush of people at the parade starting point as Dreadnought describes, then it's probably not a workable tactic going forward, because as they point out, a big delay in the hot sun could make someone seriously ill, could make the parade de facto off limits to those disabled people who were worried about the possibility of a long delay in the hot sun, etc. I think it's pretty reasonable to point this out.

But I also notice that in many moderate liberal circles, the use of a tactic that brings problems - even once, even with good justification - is used to legitimate a lot of "well, we were totally in sympathy with you but now we're not" stuff, which is what seems to be going down here.

Either BLM has a point or they don't. If they have a point, then the post-mortem of "was this worth it to achieve what we got, given the crush, sun, etc; what other options would we have going forward" is a totally separate conversation from talking about BLM's goals and demands.

In re cops: I would like to live in a world where I could call the police without thinking " am I really correct to do this". We had a [weird scary vandalism thing] in our neighborhood recently. I woke up to see part of it from my window, and to hear part of it. My thoughts were basically "what if I call the cops and they murder these people? would I feel like the protection of property was worth it if that happened". I ended up calling the cops because I felt like the vandals would run away into the night rather than get beaten or murdered, and because our neighbors had lost a lot of property that they could ill-afford to lose the last time something weird had happened. (That I did not witness - I heard about it later.)

But the point is, I should not have to make that decision, but I do because of racist, violent police culture. Show me cops who don't beat, rape and shoot marginalized people or turn a blind eye to their fellow cops who do, and they can be in Pride.
posted by Frowner at 10:11 AM on July 6, 2016 [49 favorites]


The incredible Desmond Cole is worth a listen on this topic. (Single Link CP24 Video)
posted by dogbusonline at 10:11 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Dreadnought: Maybe those BLM activists will realise they have to start learning, from their elders who've been through all this before, how to make activism effect change rather than merely garner attention.

African Americans have been fighting for their civil rights in various ways for over a century. It's neither helpful nor accurate to try and cast one group as more effective or better at it than the other -- or accuse them of grandstanding instead of pushing for change.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on July 6, 2016 [37 favorites]


I'm on board with the decision of BLM activists here in SF: they made the point that while the extra police presence may make some feel safer, it doesn't work that way for everybody and having more police makes them feel less safe. And that decision was covered fairly substantially in local media. I think you can argue that BLM Toronto's action was more effective, at least at drawing worldwide attention, but you could also argue that they hurt more of their allies as a result.

Two somewhat contrasting pictures of I took of SF's Trans March:

No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us

Posing for pictures with the SFPD
posted by zachlipton at 10:14 AM on July 6, 2016


85% of Toronto police officers live in Barrie. Toronto police aren't seen as part of the community, and don't see themselves as part of the community, because they are not part of the community.

Outsider police forces are not a Toronto specific problem, obviously. But the last I heard, there wasn't a gatekeeper barring anyone who lives north of the 407 from participating in Pride.

The point is that, if BLM Toronto wants the Toronto police to do a better job at serving PoC and other minorities, they should focus on protesting the mistreatment by the Toronto police, NOT on protesting the efforts that the Toronto police is making to do a better job at serving minorities (by participating in minority events).

To take it out of the Pride context -- will BLM also block the Caribana parade because the police will likely have a float this year? Why? Because the Caribana organizers don't care enough about black people in Toronto?
posted by sparklemotion at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you feel the urge to tell someone else how to protest, or question whether protest itself is appopriate (meanwhile another black man was gunned down execution style by police in Baton Rouge last night), I would urge you to have a seat, read or reread Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and sit in quiet for a while.
posted by sallybrown at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


I add that I have been hit pretty hard by cops a few times, but more importantly, friends have been held at gunpoint by cops, friends have had really scary things happen with cops, people I know have been sexually abused by cops, one queer white dude I know was almost beaten to death by cops yelling homophobic slurs while he was handcuffed after being arrested at a peaceful protest.....My then-housemate who was literally on her way to the hospital to give birth was delayed at my house by the cops because they were looking for someone who had lived on the street (not even in my house!) in the past. They tried to get in to make an illegal search and would not let her leave. (And I know this was bullshit because I know the past thirty years of who has lived in the house - the person in question was not known to me and had never lived there.)
posted by Frowner at 10:17 AM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


I mean, this is 2016: Two White Boys Caught, Arrested for Playing with BB Guns in Park, Forced to Write Essay on Tamir Rice as ‘Punishment’: “We had a young boy playing with a gun and the results were disastrous for that family and for the community as a whole,” Herman told the court in regards to Tamir’s death. “We have an obligation to have a dialogue about something as simple as this and how it can go from simple to tragic in a very short period of time.”
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:21 AM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Black Lives Matter protested at the Chicago Pride and received both cheers and boos.
posted by srboisvert at 10:21 AM on July 6, 2016


There's an important point to make here. The gay community - and by gay community I mean above average income, white, male, cis aka the people that all those sponsored floats for banks and airlines are actually there at Pride for - have won major victories in regards to the police's view and treatment of them in just a few decades. The black community has been fighting the same fight for what, 150 years, to get nowhere close to that same level of acceptance. even feigned acceptance, from the police. What does that say about institutionalized racism?

Now think about how native communities are still treated by the police. Or trans communities. They are people who are supposed to be represented by Pride who are legitimately afraid of the police, and it's up to the them to toughen up and accept the official presence of the police in their parade? Not the police to get their shit together when it comes to their treatment of PoC and marginalized groups?

On the week leading into Pride, Canada's largest grocery chain had a variety of Pride events at their flagship store on the edge of the village. And then on the day of the Parade, their security was actively gender-policing the washroom queues. Management reacted with a shrug. Because there's still a difference between the kind of people that the expensive grocery store wants to advertise to (Stonewall the movie), and the people who need to be represented by Pride (Stonewall the real event).
posted by thecjm at 10:24 AM on July 6, 2016 [51 favorites]


The police (as an org, not as LGBT individuals) are using pride to pink-wash themselves instead of making any amends for how they've treated the community.

It seems like part of the conflict here is that some activists think institutional PD pinkwashing is craven and insulting (maybe even an implicit threat), and other activists think even pinkwashing lipservice is a sign of progress compared to outright hostility/violence/gleeful murder of LGBTQ people that was standard MO for so long.

If you've spent decades watching outright brutality gradually shift into pandering for PR, then the pandering feels like a refreshing change and sign of progress.

If you've spent your whole life with the pandering and absolutely no real institutional support, PLUS facing the consequences of the ongoing war law enforcement is waging on POC communities, then you are more likely to find the pandering insulting and repugnant.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:27 AM on July 6, 2016 [22 favorites]


I empathize with queer police officers who want to spread a message of goodwill and both show and receive support from the community. I really do. But when they march in uniform, they still represent the Toronto police department as a whole, and the Toronto police department as an entity is not queer, and not part of our queer community. They don't deserve an automatic spot at the table.

The city's police department is targeting and attacking people in our community, specifically some of the most marginalized people. So yeah, I can understand why BLM takes issue with the police receiving the publicity and goodwill of the Pride parade while still maintaining their oppressive ways the other 364 days of the year. What kind of message is Pride Toronto sending when it reduces funding for explicitly black events while embracing the inclusion of an entity that is actively harming members of our community? This is the question that BLM is asking. I think the answer is pretty fucking obvious.

I expected nothing less than vitriol from the general public. But if it makes anyone feel better: I've seen way more messages of support on social media from my community than I expected, and it's so encouraging. Change is slow but I believe it is spreading.

Pride is political, and if you can't remember that then you need to be reminded.
posted by mr. manager at 10:28 AM on July 6, 2016 [25 favorites]


Relevant not to Toronto Pride but overall racism in both gay and police communities to those who realize these are universal problems:

Was Pride At Montrose Shut Down Over A Fence Or Racism? Angry Activists Ask
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:28 AM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Perhaps it is my own personal failing, but using a gay pride parade as a venue for protest tells me unkind things.

Gee. I really hope this thread isn't one of those things that makes me question why I even bother with this site anymore.
posted by odinsdream at 10:29 AM on July 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


If you've spent decades watching outright brutality gradually shift into pandering for PR, then the pandering feels like a refreshing change and sign of progress.

The problem is that the brutality continues, just against a (incredibly vulnerable) subset of the community. Do they count, or not?
posted by praemunire at 10:31 AM on July 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


does anyone here think if marsha p. johnson were still with us, she'd say the police pinkwashing being welcomed with open arms is refreshing?
posted by nadawi at 10:31 AM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


The problem is that the brutality continues, just against a (incredibly vulnerable) subset of the community. Do they count, or not?

Hence the rest of my comment. I think BLM is in the right.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


African Americans have been fighting for their civil rights in various ways for over a century.

This particular group of Black and brown Canadians are a) not African Americans (by and large) and b) have defiantly not been doing this for a century on account of the fact that they appear to be very, very young.* And I think that's one of the reasons the larger activist community has been cutting them some slack, because everybody remembers what it's like to be 18-22 and fired up. But they made a big mistake and they, yes, need to learn from that.

And yes, I think it was a mistake. Because it was very dangerous and because it turned people against them.

I have this argument all the time, by the way: people say "allies should just support us because we're right and we don't need to prove that to them." Well, in an ideal world, yes. But this isn't an ideal world. If allies just supported you anyway, there would be no need to demonstrate. You demonstrate, in fact, for the purpose of gaining allies.

Look at all those actions in history that, as somebody said up thread, people how try to cast as 'anodyne'. Some of them worked, some of them didn't. Some of them were justified by success, some of them are now seen as the reasonable excesses of an angry group. Others are seen as the unreasonable excesses which discredited a cause. What makes the difference between 'reasonable' and 'excessive'? It's not the level of intensity in the action. Nobody thinks it was 'unreasonable' for concentration camp internees to blow up the ovens at Auschwitz. Most people think it was unreasonable burn cars in the banlieues of Paris. What makes the difference?

Actions, for them to be 'reasonable' or 'supportable' have to be effective. They have to either physically do something desirable, or they have to send a message that you want to send. Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus worked, not because she was 'sitting in' but because it made the bus company look like a bully, created support for the bus boycott, and touched off a successful phase of activism. If Rosa Parks had being violent (shot a cop) or failed to make the power system look like an unreasonable bully ('sitting in' in her own living room), it would have had none of these beneficial effects.

So what did this protest achieve? Did it get them concessions? No, it hurt their ability to get concessions. Did it fire up their base? No, it made their base go on the internet and tell heart-sick people who were badly effected by the action that they should just grow up and stop whining about the minor inconvenience of being put in potentially mortal danger. Did it create widespread public support? No, it turned both the general public and the wider activist community against them. Not against the cause of Black solidarity and liberation, mind, but against this particular group of activists and the 'brand' of their message.

By physically hurting people, the moral suasion of this message was badly undermined. That hurts them, it hurts their community, it hurts all of us.

So yes, they should learn. They should start reading the actual history of how activism has operated over time, not just the myths and propaganda. You know a good place to start? Right now they have the ear of some of the best and most effective activists in the country. Maybe they should stop assuming that everybody they talk to is an ignoramus who never encountered social change before and start to understand that before you can condescend to everybody else, you have to be prepared to accept a little condescension yourself.

*Let's all this 'youth privilege'; they never had to live through the times when things were even worse and they would be fighting merely to live.
posted by Dreadnought at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


Two White Boys Caught, Arrested for Playing with BB Guns in Park, Forced to Write Essay on Tamir Rice as ‘Punishment’:

The worst. How bleak? The bleakest. "We will kill you and then use your death as a cautionary tale for our children". This is what I can't stand, and I guess it's part of why I don't like police in the parade: the way that marginalized people get turned into resources. When it's socially useful, satisfies popular prejudice and justifies police budgets, law and order will beat you down and kill you; then, they'll turn right around and expect pats on the back for marching in your parade when that is socially useful. Kill a kid, a little baby-faced boy, and then have the fucking murdering gall and hubris to use that poor boy's terrible fate at your hands to moralize to your people. Whatever's convenient, that's what they'll do, regardless of the dignity and worth of the people in question - treating them just like a thing to use up. Sometimes the use is bearable and sometimes it's not, but it's use either way.
posted by Frowner at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2016 [34 favorites]


they never had to live through the times when things were even worse and they would be fighting merely to live.

they are still fighting merely to live. that's actually the point.
posted by nadawi at 10:37 AM on July 6, 2016 [57 favorites]


By physically hurting people, the moral suasion of this message was badly undermined.

i am so confused by your white-washing of events

Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus worked, not because she was 'sitting in' but because it made the bus company look like a bully, created support for the bus boycott, and touched off a successful phase of activism.

Ditto: Rosa Parks was a radical, lifelong black liberation activist, not a "meek seamstress"
posted by Conspire at 10:38 AM on July 6, 2016 [39 favorites]


And I think that's one of the reasons the larger activist community has been cutting them some slack, because everybody remembers what it's like to be 18-22 and fired up. But they made a big mistake and they, yes, need to learn from that.

Do black lives matter? BLM doesn't need the "slack" (or the condescension). They don't "need to learn." They are simply stating, over and over again - black lives matter. And the absolutely ridiculous responses BLM draws from even the most progressive of spheres shows just how little black lives appear to matter to so many people.
posted by sallybrown at 10:38 AM on July 6, 2016 [36 favorites]


The point is that life-saving activism, even when, and especially when it inconveniences other people, is never wrong.

I hope I've addressed this in my previous comment, but just to make this clear:

a) this ins't life-saving activism if it doesn't save anyone's life. Look at their demands: they weren't calling for anyone's life or freedom, but for material considerations and for the Pride people to be less friendly with the police.

b) I don't think it's fair to say this 'inconvenienced' people. It physically sickened hundreds of people, and placed thousands more in terrible danger. Sure, they didn't mean to do that, but they probably did, and that means they are morally required to take responsibility.

c) It's wrong when it doesn't work. I'm sorry, some people will see that statement as axiomatically wrong, but I think even peaceful protest is a waste of time. Violent protest (and this was an act of political violence which had real, fortunately not fatal, consequences) is wrong when it does nothing.
posted by Dreadnought at 10:38 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hence the rest of my comment. I think BLM is in the right.

We probably agree broadly, but what I'm trying to say is that your comment seems to conceive of two groups, the LGBT people who watch brutality to them shifting into pandering to them (and may either find it comforting or contemptible), and then the people of color against whom law enforcement is waging war who object to police presence. But for many LGBT people, the brutality is not going away, because they are people of color, and their suffering is not independent of their LGBT-ness.
posted by praemunire at 10:39 AM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


*Let's all this 'youth privilege'; they never had to live through the times when things were even worse and they would be fighting merely to live.

Where was Tamir Rice's youth privilege? Respectfully, you seem to know little about the racism and institutional violence facing black youth.
posted by sallybrown at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2016 [38 favorites]


> So what did this protest achieve?

The goal of any single protest is never to Win All The Things, Okay Done Now.

> If Rosa Parks had being violent (shot a cop) or failed to make the power system look like an unreasonable bully ('sitting in' in her own living room), it would have had none of these beneficial effects.

Dude, people were furious about the boycott. White opposition rose - you know, possible allies that these boycotters should have been reaching out to! - and black churches were bombed. So were the houses of organizers.

Talk about needing to learn some history.
posted by rtha at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2016 [77 favorites]


It is very common for white activists to think of actual activists like Rosa Parks and MLK, Jr as meek little people who weren't actually fucking bad-asses that were reactionary and got up in people's faces.
posted by Kitteh at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2016 [54 favorites]


This seems like not a good thing from a purely practical standpoint. If the point of a parade or a protest is the messaging delivered with the hope that minds will be changed or cultural things are given the respect they deserve, it is far more efficient to deliver the message in clear and focused ways. This is basic persuasion/brain science. People only have so much bandwidth. You can tell people 20 different things and they won't remember them all. If you tell them one thing and stress it, the message is delivered. This is well-established stuff.

Having a parade of pride, remembrance, and openness for LGBT is an excellent thing, and it seems to me be an effective thing to promote LGBT interests.
Having a parade or protest which seeks to call attention to the unacceptable travesty of excessive force by police officers is an important and good thing.
Both of those interests seem to be furthered from a "message delivered" aspect when they are allowed to consume separately the oxygen and bandwidth. Otherwise, you run the risk of drowning each other out, having infighting, or having the sort of arguments where one side claims to have more important concerns than another. People cannot process a cacophony and instead tune it out.

This Saturday, have the Pride event. Next Saturday, have the police brutality event. Cede each other the spotlight to deliver their respective messages in the most efficient manner possible instead of competing bandwidth and causing conflict between the groups.
Where is the downside in that? Why doesn't that make the most sense?
posted by dios at 10:41 AM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Where is the downside in that?

Because then you have missed getting the attention of the thousands of people at the Pride event.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2016 [22 favorites]


My wife and I stopped by to watch the parade while we were visiting Toronto over the weekend. We missed the first hour, so we didn't know anything about the delay until later that day, but it still occurred to dumb cis-hetero-white American me that watching uniformed police officers aiming a super-soaker in your face probably looks a lot different to some marginalized groups than it does to others.

It also seemed to us that, regardless of whether you think there ought to be cops and other first responders in the parade, the sheer volume of them seemed to overwhelm the number of groups from the communities that Pride exists for. I don't know the numbers, but from our vantage point, it seemed like there were two or three police/EMS groups for every one group not wearing uniforms / driving in ambulances / cop cars. If BLM and the Pride organizers do come to an agreement to allow for a police presence in the future, perhaps they could be more selective about how many they allow as representatives so that it doesn't look like a police parade that some LGBTQ people were allowed to participate in.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:43 AM on July 6, 2016 [18 favorites]


I agree with the goals of BLM, and right now I think that this was a slightly dangerous but mostly reasonable way to further those goals.

It will be interesting to look back on this in a year and see if this tactic helped or harmed the cause. Right now I don't think anyone can say for sure. The actions of the BLM movement over the coming months are sure to recontextualize this, as are the actions of the police.
posted by poe at 10:43 AM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mayor worried cops can't take part in Pride anymore. Oh Canada, you're too much.
posted by Damienmce at 10:44 AM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I too like to pretend that spaces that are inclusive to me are inclusive to everyone, and I don't always put the pressure on my pretense that I should. But if someone comes and says "this is a pretense, we are not safe or welcome here even though you claim we are" you have to address that.

I just wanted to quote this powerful statement by Frowner because it resonates so deeply with me.

I try to be a good ally to various groups, but the truth is that more often than not, I fail to address the lack of inclusion when people call out spaces I belong to on that score.

It's hard to do so. Very hard sometimes. But it's gotta be done. Thank you for the reminder, Frowner.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:44 AM on July 6, 2016 [16 favorites]


It's wrong when it doesn't work.

Have you really thought through the historical implications of this statement? I mean, do you have any idea how many people advocating for positions that you almost certainly support have failed utterly in their time? For instance, how many slave rebellions, from Spartacus to the nineteenth century, you are condemning as "wrong"?

It's one thing to say that we need to weigh costs against benefits, and that that expected benefits need to be considerably higher when the costs start including physically harming people. But success as the only barometer of the moral rightness of a protest action...that is chilling.
posted by praemunire at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2016 [20 favorites]


I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
learn from our elders indeed.
posted by nadawi at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2016 [80 favorites]


Because then you have missed getting the attention of the thousands of people at the Pride event.

There is such a thing as the wrong kind of attention. I could go around knocking on doors for a cause, or I could try punching them in the face when they answer the door. This kind of in-fighting is just playing into the racist and homophobic establishment's hands.
posted by fifthrider at 10:46 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Honestly, it is sickening to watch otherwise progressive people tie themselves in logical and rhetorical knots to criticize Black Lives Matter without having to face their own racism, their inner urge to "prove" how BLM is always in the wrong.

I'm not speaking specifically about this thread, either. It's happening broadly and it's horrible. THAT is why movements struggle - not because of poor protest choices, but because the "good majority" people can't stand to look at their inner thoughts in the bright light.
posted by sallybrown at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2016 [30 favorites]


Very few among us are activists for our rights. And being an activist is a seven-day-a-week responsibility. We must battle not only against our enemies but also against the straitjackets many of us still wear, which interfere with our ability to fight these enemies in full, free, and in-your-face unity. We must have a stronger presence in Washington. We must have lobbyists. More of us must step forth, willing to lead. How many gay leaders can most of us even identify? Rich gays must step up to the plate. The David Geffen Hall should be the David Geffen Foundation for LGBT Equality. There are many gay billionaires and many, many gay millionaires. Why aren't they fighting for their people with the strongest ammunition that any war requires to survive it? -- Larry Kramer, in Esquire last month
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:50 AM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Violent protest (and this was an act of political violence
...
There is such a thing as the wrong kind of attention. I could go around knocking on doors for a cause, or I could try punching them in the face when they answer the door.

do people even notice when they describe or make comparisons to black people participating in peaceful protest as being violent?
posted by nadawi at 10:50 AM on July 6, 2016 [52 favorites]


Honestly, it is sickening to watch otherwise progressive people tie themselves in logical and rhetorical knots to criticize Black Lives Matter without having to face their own racism, their inner urge to "prove" how BLM is always in the wrong.

Likewise, it's sickening to watch progressive people rain on other progressive people's parades, rather than striking at much more deserving targets of opportunity. An action like this carries, by design or no, the rather unfortunate subtext that being black and being queer are two incompatible identities. This isn't movement building.
posted by fifthrider at 10:51 AM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't live in Canada, but in my little corner of the U.S. South, young radical folks, including the QTPOC folks in the BLM movement, are not looking for any kind of rapprochement with the police. The police have no record of serving and protecting communities of color. So, they want entirely different and community-based solutions to violent crime. As far as I know.

The history of American policing is not benevolent; it has been and began as a force that developed from runaway slave patrols and "Indian watches", to protect the lives and "property" of white Americans at all costs.

If you think the aim of BLM in the U.S. or in Canada is to make friends with the police rather than to change the institutions from the ground up, then you surely won't understand the position of BLM on police. If you think of police as friendly individuals rather than members of a repressive institution, likewise.

Rosa Parks and MLK scared and angered the shit out of white America, which prefers order and niceness and looking away from oppression. So your discomfort with BLM might need some historical context, as others have noted.
posted by allthinky at 10:51 AM on July 6, 2016 [22 favorites]


it personally feels like people saying that blm should know their place, and their place isn't at pride, are the ones pushing the subtext that being queer and black are incompatible identities.
posted by nadawi at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2016 [48 favorites]


An action like this carries, by design or no, the rather unfortunate subtext that being black and being queer are two incompatible identities. This isn't movement building.

Does it? I mean, it was black queer people who did it.

So it seems to me that the subtext here is that some white people want to think that being black and queer are incompatible.
posted by qcubed at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2016 [26 favorites]


BLM seems to be very good at conducting friendly fire at organizations/groups that would normally be friendly toward them. I get what they're trying to do, and I'm for their cause, but the method they are going about it is totally alienating and counterproductive. Being hostile to the people most friendly toward your movement is only going to end with you having no friends at all.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


No. Just no. BLM aren't looking for white folks to be "friendly" to them.

I don't think you are actually "for their cause".
posted by allthinky at 10:54 AM on July 6, 2016 [47 favorites]


Being hostile to the people most friendly toward your movement

cops are the most friendly to BLM?
posted by Krom Tatman at 10:54 AM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Being hostile to the people most friendly toward your movement is only going to end with you having no friends at all.

Oh no, someone warn Dr. King!
posted by sallybrown at 10:55 AM on July 6, 2016 [18 favorites]


I get what they're trying to do, and I'm for their cause, but the method they are going about it is totally alienating and counterproductive. Being hostile to the people most friendly toward your movement is only going to end with you having no friends at all.

compared to

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

move along now, already seen here
posted by qcubed at 10:55 AM on July 6, 2016 [16 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. Dreadnought, it really feels like you're digging in here in a way that is not going to make things go better, please give it a pass at this point.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:55 AM on July 6, 2016


Being hostile to the people most friendly toward your movement

cops?


Well, the cops walking in a pride parade are almost certainly the most progressive ones, and therefore the most receptive to your message. Don't be hostile toward those cops, they're the ones who could help fix the system.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:56 AM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ok, I read these comments, and then I went back and checked the article. This was a peaceful protest. Talking about it like it was brutal or violent is dishonest as hell.
posted by Braeburn at 10:57 AM on July 6, 2016 [49 favorites]


if being nicer to our oppressors worked, we'd all be free by now.
posted by nadawi at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2016 [49 favorites]


It is very common for white activists to think of actual activists like Rosa Parks and MLK, Jr as meek little people who weren't actually fucking bad-asses that were reactionary and got up in people's faces.

I get into far-too-frequent Facebook arguments with Minnesotans furious at BLM for blocking roads. "Martin Luther King never blocked roads," they will say. "Martin Luther King never interfered with public transportation!"

I mean, it's hard to know how to respond to people who argue the MLK never did activities that he's actually most famous for.
posted by maxsparber at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2016 [64 favorites]


Well, the cops walking in a pride parade are almost certainly the most progressive ones, and therefore the most receptive to your message. Don't be hostile toward those cops, they're the ones who could help fix the system.

Your assumption that gay cops are the most progressive/liberal/prone to not beat other queer people is a VERY mistaken one from my experience.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2016 [16 favorites]


This particular group of Black and brown Canadians are a) not African Americans (by and large) and b) have defiantly not been doing this for a century on account of the fact that they appear to be very, very young.*

I'm neither gay nor black. So while I've been been reading this thread I've tried to refrain from commenting because I'd rather not insert myself inappropriately into someone else's narrative.

As you have apparently been doing. To each their own, I guess.

Are you being deliberately obtuse?
posted by zarq at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Again, this is why it's rich for cis-white activists to tell black activists to learn their history. Nope, the other way around, I think.
posted by Kitteh at 10:59 AM on July 6, 2016 [22 favorites]


The cherry on top of this rage sundae for me is that, like, thirty years from now, white people are probably going to be talking about Black Lives Matter as if it were a polite, moderate movement to concern-troll whatever activism black communities are conducting by then, like they've done with so much of other black activism by now.

Hey, I came up with a slogan for you white people: "We never learn from history."
posted by Conspire at 11:00 AM on July 6, 2016 [48 favorites]


Don't be hostile toward those cops, they're the ones who could help fix the system

Seems like the wrong order. Seems to me that maybe it should start with the cops taking action to reform the system, and then maybe they can have a role in Pride.
posted by Krom Tatman at 11:00 AM on July 6, 2016 [33 favorites]


Well, the cops walking in a pride parade are almost certainly the most progressive ones, and therefore the most receptive to your message. Don't be hostile toward those cops, they're the ones who could help fix the system.

Or maybe they need to be occasionally reminded that they should be working harder, given that they spend most of their time around the less progressive ones being indoctrinated into the Thin Blue Line.
posted by Etrigan at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


Please come into my home and track mud everywhere, that's the only way the carpet can get cleaned
posted by beerperson at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


The cherry on top of this rage sundae for me is that, like, thirty years from now, white people are probably going to be talking about Black Lives Matter as if it were a polite, moderate movement to concern-troll whatever activism black communities are conducting by then, like they've done with so much of other black activism by now.

Hey, I came up with a slogan for you white people: "We never learn from history."


Well, given how they like to appropriate things, maybe it's "Why don't you learn from our history"?
posted by qcubed at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The cherry on top of this rage sundae for me is that, like, thirty years from now, white people are probably going to be talking about Black Lives Matter as if it were a polite, moderate movement to concern-troll whatever activism black communities are conducting by then, like they've done with so much of other black activism by now.

"DeRay Mckesson would NEVER have used a curse word in a tweet! In my day those black activists wore nice Patagonia vests when they marched!"
posted by sallybrown at 11:02 AM on July 6, 2016 [25 favorites]


> This kind of in-fighting is just playing into the racist and homophobic establishment's hands.

And this kind of statement only serves to prop up the racist and homophobic status quo. It is not a neutral stance: it supports the continued marginalization and silencing of activists who have not (yet) attained the approval of their "elders" and "betters."
posted by rtha at 11:02 AM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


What I heard from a video of a speech from during the sit-in was a list of specific concerns about how Pride has been organized in recent years to reduce the spaces and visibility of people of colour. For example, one demand was the reinstatement of a South Asian stage at the festival, and the hiring of more staff in the Pride office, and to push for funding to be reinstated to several organizations that support queer youth of colour.

That seems specific to Pride, and relevant to the march IMO.

Also, perhaps not visible in the US:

a) Toronto Pride started (at least in part) in response to police violence (Toronto Bath House Raids, for which there has been an apology recently)
b) There is a current ongoing debate about racist carding practices in Toronto with a lot of stats showing how discriminatory policing is toward black men in particular
c) There have been several youth of colour killed by police in Toronto (and Montreal, and police violence reported by First Nations people across the country) in recent years

I've seen a lot of very nasty comments toward BLM on facebook and twitter in regards to this (not to mention Wente's usual insipid stupidity) and I understand that Pride organizers may disagree and be hurt/angry ... but I cannot see how this needs to descend to the kind of racist backlash we are seeing. People can disagree respectfully, even if waiting for twenty minutes during pride so you can listen to people you disagree with is involved.
posted by chapps at 11:03 AM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Well, given how they like to appropriate things, maybe it's "Why don't you learn from our history"?

i cant wait to watch the movie adaptation of these protests, all of those black background characters cowering in the background as the hot white young blond protag yells a rousing but-not-too-political speech into his megaphone
posted by Conspire at 11:03 AM on July 6, 2016 [30 favorites]


Man, it seems like the most challenging message for white people to understand is that movements are not all about us. Movements have goals, methods, and tactics that are not all about making white people comfortable.

It makes perfect sense to me that in the North American context of incredible violence against black, brown, and queer bodies on behalf of the state, a group of queer people of color are not interested in ingratiating themselves with the armed wing of the state inflicting most of that violence, especially if many of their goals relate to stopping that violence.

It also makes sense to me that an organization founded to give voice to a group of people who have been the target of that state violence - including white folks and people of color - should be sympathetic, supportive of, and in fact celebrate a group of young, queer activists of color who do not feel safe in a community which is supposed to include them.

Intersectionality is hard. White people need to get better at it. I need to get better at it. Otherwise, people without political capital are going to keep dying, and those of us with political capital are going to keep turning the other way and supporting the violence of the state - tacitly, or, evidently, purposefully.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:04 AM on July 6, 2016 [50 favorites]


it supports the continued marginalization and silencing of activists who have not (yet) attained the approval of their "elders" and "betters."

There's nothing "elder" or "better" about the gay rights movement. They've been doing their thing, just as the black civil rights movement has. Moreover, there's a lot of room for common ground and cooperation. The point is that, as far as public relations go, it's generally better to court potential allies with an olive branch, and reserve the switch for the enemy.
posted by fifthrider at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


So please tell me, what is the point?

The point is that life-saving activism, even when, and especially when it inconveniences other people, is never wrong.
posted by roomthreeseventeen


Except that Dreadnought just describe how it wasn't just an inconvience.

It was inconvenient for parade viewers. For a lot of people in the marshalling area it was hours in the full sun with no access to extra water. The delay got bigger, because of the physics of movement (like a traffic jam). The wait, usually about an hour, was between 3 and 4 hours.

And they started getting more and more crowded - potentially deadly crowded. Dreadnought lived in Britain during the Hilsborough disaster; he doesn't invoke it lightly. If there had been a panic, we would be talking about deaths, not inconvenience.

As it was, many people were still made very sick.

You can dismiss this comment. But you weren't there, you do not know what it was like.

I really don't give a shit about whether they should or should not have stopped the parade. I actually blame PrideTO for most of the danger: they should have planned for this contingency.

But if you were not in the marshalling area you have no idea what it was like. Even people a few metres away had no idea how crowded it had gotten. But it was a matter of life and death for those of us in that position.
posted by jb at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


it's generally better to court potential allies with an olive branch, and reserve the switch for the enemy

How can they when their supposed allies tell them "we'll let you know when you can use the switch too"?
posted by Kitteh at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


i cant wait to watch the movie adaptation of these protests, all of those black background characters cowering in the background as the hot white young blond protag yells a rousing but-not-too-political speech into his megaphone

Wasn't that the exact kind of awful that ruined up the Stonewall movie last year?
posted by FatherDagon at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sometimes being disruptive is the only way to get the message across. The protest was non-violent and they aren't looking for everyone there to agree with them.

Discourse isn't always about agreement, sometimes it's about letting others know that you have a right to exist and that you aren't going to go to the back of the line.

Yes the LGBT community has suffered a lot over the years but this isn't about atrocity olympics, people shouldn't be looking to out compete each other in terms of the level of societal violence directed at them. It should be about making sure that nobody is left behind.

Unfortunately I think way too many communities fail to see those that are being left behind by social progress and instead of stopping and helping them catch up we tell them to quit whining.
posted by vuron at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


White people who want to be friendly to BLM (or to racial justice projects of any kind) can still be friendly even if they don't, like, agree with every single thing that BLM does. The choice to be unfriendly to BLM is on us, not them.

If you are thinking "I refuse to sympathize with BLM's racial justice platform because I don't like the way they talk about cops", I think you have it backwards and it is on you.

This whole "well, they are alienating their moderate supporters who would otherwise care about racial justice" is a total indictment of the shallowness of moderate supporters.
posted by Frowner at 11:09 AM on July 6, 2016 [49 favorites]


You can dismiss this comment. But you weren't there, you do not know what it was like.

I feel like People of Color are saying exactly this all the time. And we should listen.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2016 [20 favorites]


BLM seems to be very good at conducting friendly fire at organizations/groups that would normally be friendly toward them.

BLM had a specific list of issues with Pride Toronto that they wanted addressed. They peacefully protested to get it addressed. Friendly fire may be better used to describe Toronto Pride's behavior that led to this.
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yes the LGBT community has suffered a lot over the years but this isn't about atrocity olympics, people shouldn't be looking to out compete each other in terms of the level of societal violence directed at them.

Amen.
posted by fifthrider at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2016


So it seems reasonable to talk about whether - going forward, as a tactic! - interrupting a very large parade on a very hot day is a great strategy. If it's actually creating a dangerous crush of people at the parade starting point as Dreadnought describes, then it's probably not a workable tactic going forward, because as they point out, a big delay in the hot sun could make someone seriously ill, could make the parade de facto off limits to those disabled people who were worried about the possibility of a long delay in the hot sun, etc. I think it's pretty reasonable to point this out.

This is exactly what happened. I have disabled friends who went home because they were sick.
posted by jb at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Pride TO is not great at being organized and not great at scale.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


The point is that, as far as public relations go, it's generally better to court potential allies with an olive branch, and reserve the switch for the enemy.

Mu absolute rule of thumb is that I have no idea what is best for a movement I am not part of and whose needs I do not share. I trust BLM knows what they are doing and can figure out what tactics are good for them.

Maybe this wasn't about public relations. Maybe this was about forcing a change, or highlighting a hypocrisy, or, I don't know, maybe it was just about getting a group known for violence against people of color out of a parade. The tactics might perfectly fit the goals, which we are not privy to.

Activists do all sorts of things that seem ill-considered from the outside. I'd say they're pretty much defined by it. In my experience, the tactics that work best are often the ones that cause people to yelp the most, that seem the most ill-considered, especially if it is throwing our privilege into our face.
posted by maxsparber at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2016 [16 favorites]


our small town parade went exactly as planned (with lots of blm representation, and cops on the sidelines as it should be) and some of my disabled or otherwise prone to heatstroke friends had to leave early. i don't think blm set the forecast for the day, so blaming them for the sun seems a stretch.
posted by nadawi at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2016 [30 favorites]


You can be in our parade but don't be the wrong kind of queers about it; it's not just for St. Patrick's Day bigots anymore.

We've come a long way, baby.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


But if you were not in the marshalling area you have no idea what it was like. Even people a few metres away had no idea how crowded it had gotten. But it was a matter of life and death for those of us in that position.

This is true, but what seems off to me is using it as a cudgel to criticize the protestors. It's the responsibility of the city government and police to provide for the public safety of people who show up to participate in and watch a city-sanctioned parade, and to be able to respond when something as predictable as a protest happens.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2016 [38 favorites]


It makes perfect sense to me that in the North American context of incredible violence against black, brown, and queer bodies on behalf of the state, a group of black and brown queer people are not interested in ingratiating themselves with the armed wing of the state inflicting most of that violence, especially if many of their goals relate to stopping that violence.

It also makes total sense that a lot of marginalized people who are victims of non-state sanctioned violence might want to forge positive relationships with the state actors whose job is to put their lives at risk to stop those violent non-state actors. I think it's reasonable for BLM to ask for the police presence to go, I think it's reasonable for other people to disagree. We are talking about groups that share in common that society often thinks their lives don't matter, so everybody has something personally real and important at stake when it comes to police matters. I think it's probably something that people are going to have to talk over in the longer term. I think the protest has made that conversation inevitable or at the least more likely, if it accomplished nothing else.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:17 AM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


The contingent I marched in - headed by a grand marshal chosen for his longtime AIDS activism - we had frickin' die-ins: we blocked the parade for several minutes at a time over the entire route while we lay down in the street and drew chalk body outlines around the "dead" people. Just like the old days! You know who's mad at us for that? NOBODY.

There was a die-in at the 1993 March on Washington. As word spread back along the parade route, multiple groups joined in. (There were also groups doing direct action trespass protests during 1993MOW.) There was handwringing then about "disruption" by groups like ACT-UP and Queer Nation who took the demands further than the official platform through additional protests, but not to the same extent as now.

I wonder how much of the difference is due to the status of the victims the protest was for, and how much is due to the commercialization of Pride with participation by companies like Wells Fargo and Chipotle.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:17 AM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


If it's actually creating a dangerous crush of people at the parade starting point as Dreadnought describes, then it's probably not a workable tactic going forward, because as they point out, a big delay in the hot sun could make someone seriously ill, could make the parade de facto off limits to those disabled people who were worried about the possibility of a long delay in the hot sun, etc. I think it's pretty reasonable to point this out.

I think it's pretty reasonable to point it out, but I also think it's clear the BLM's intention was not to make people sick in the marshaling area and that this was an unintended consequence. Maybe they should have seen it coming and taken steps to mitigate the problem; maybe they should learn from the situation when planning future actions; maybe the marshaling area should be setup better next time. But some people here have described this as intention violence by BLM, and I don't see any evidence for that.
posted by zachlipton at 11:17 AM on July 6, 2016 [28 favorites]


I think it's pretty reasonable to point it out, but I also think it's clear the BLM's intention was not to make people sick in the marshaling area and that this was an unintended consequence.

Oh, absolutely! With the exception of people who were in the crush of the crowd (who I think get cut a little slack about their feelings, honestly) people would have been just as mad if there had been a BLM protest of any kind even if all the people waiting at the start of the parade had been given deck chairs and frozen margaritas. For most people, it's not actually about "how could these tactics have been better with more information", it's about "I am mad about BLM".
posted by Frowner at 11:23 AM on July 6, 2016 [22 favorites]


I had to do a bunch of digging to find the text of the actual demands themselves, so if anyone is curious here they are.

THANK YOU! Look, if you think these demands are "going too far" you are way, way, way into the "part of the problem" territory. Seriously. You could do worse than reading about the resignation of their unpaid volunteer Team Lead of the Trans Pride Team from last year as a first step to understanding the ENORMOUS arc of this issue. It's not even remotely about just this 30 minute demonstration.

I'm transcribing them here because it's important to actually read them and make them visible:
Black Lives Matter - Toronto, along with various community groups, including BQY and Blackness Yes have the following demands:
  1. Commit to BQY's (Black Queer Youth) continued space (including stage/tents), funding, and logistical support.
  2. Self-determination for all community spaces, allowing community full control over hiring, content, and structure of their stages.
  3. Full and adequate funding for community stages, including logistical, technical, and personnel support.
  4. Double funding for Blockorama + ASL interpretation & headliner funding
  5. Reinstate and make a commitment to increase community stages/spaces (including the reinstatement of the South Asian stage).
  6. A commitment to increase representation amongst Pride Toronto staffing/hiring, prioritizing Black trans women, Black queer people, indigenous folk, and others from vulnerable communities.
  7. A commitment to more Black deaf & hearing ASL interpreters for the Festival.
  8. Removal of police floats/booths in all Pride marches/parades/community spaces.
  9. A public townhall, organized in conjunction with groups from marginalized communities including, but not limited to, Black Lives Matter- Toronto, Blackness Yes, and BQY to be held six months from today. Pride Toronto will present an update and action plan on the aforementioned demands.
A couple points worth highlighting: They are not calling for the removal of police forces as an element of a security plan, but rather the discontinuation of giving the police a literal stage on which to promote themselves as police. Additionally, they're being eminently reasonable in presenting these demands, asking for them to be considered, and asking for an action plan to be presented six months from now to move the dialog forward. Emergency meetings, my ass.

People tone policing this: piss off.
posted by odinsdream at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2016 [90 favorites]


Pride TO is not great at being organized and not great at scale.
posted by PinkMoose at 2:12 PM on 7/6


The festival has grown massively - and they have ~6 paid staff to handle it all. They work very hard. Fixing the scale issues will take a lot of money and a lot of thought.
posted by jb at 11:25 AM on July 6, 2016


Also the NCAVP report on LGBTQ and HIV-affected violence was released last month. That report found that POC were disproportionately affected by violence and a majority of people who reported violence to the police were met with indifference, hostility, or additional violence. While showing up at Pride is great public relations, the day-to-day practice of policing still appears to have significant bias.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:28 AM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Rosa Parks was actually the second person whose case that the NAACP considered publicizing. The first was Claudette Colvin, who was also arrested nine months earlier for the same crime of refusing to give up her seat. The NAACP decided not to publicize that case because they later discovered she was pregnant by a married man. Claudette Colvin was described as "feisty" and "mouthy" compared to Rosa who was seen as calm and well-mannered.
posted by I made this account so Matt could have a $5 beer at 11:37 AM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


My son and I had the opportunity and privilege to march in this year's PrideTO, supporting my wife's workplace. I consider myself an ally and as such I'm trying to just shut the fuck up and listen and learn, and for the most part I feel it's not really my place to insert my two cents. But I wanted to say that when we noticed there was an increasing delay and it started filtering back to us that there was a BLM protest, I just sort of thought, "Oh, ok." Because of course there was? From my perspective it seemed to fit right in with the spirit of Pride. And so I'm still listening and I'm still learning.
posted by chococat at 11:38 AM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


So I was wondering why there would be a float for a profession. I took a look at the float list for the parade and while there are several floats for teachers, unions, and so on, something like 10% of the floats were for police agencies (a bit more if you count all first responders). This seems like a lot for the context. I'm also thinking the floats for nurses and lawyers didn't have people in nurse whites, in suits with briefcases.

This speaks to the priorities of the police participants. Why wear the uniform? It says that they are cops first and community participants second, rather than everybody else who wear casual, messaging, and/or subculture clothing (or not...). Why do the police need to present such a stark and fraught image? There's a difference between cops who are gay or allies and gay/ally people who happen to be cops. A dedicated cop float is yet another way in which law enforcement sets themselves apart from the community.
posted by rhizome at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


That trans pride volunteer's resignation letter is pretty shocking:

In 2015, Pride Toronto again endorsed TD Bank, despite the fact that in 2014 TD Bank was revealed to be locking trans women out of their own bank accounts based on how feminine they sound on the phone. A 2014 article in Daily XTRA exposed TD Bank’s transphobic customer service and transmisogynist identification policy, by which Trans people are judged (and punished) based on the quality of their voice.

And that is just for starters. The whole letter functions as a very clear, schematic critique of what happens when Pride is "non-political".
posted by Frowner at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2016 [50 favorites]


An FAQ for this thread:

1.) what were they even thinking they would accomplish
Luckily we don't need to speculate. They probably also had the general goal of getting queer allies to think and talk about ways in which PRIDE is and isn't inclusive.

2.) isnt this a totally ineffective way to accomplish anything (they should have done it x,y,z way)
I dunno, it seems to be working to me. I see lots of allies in here being confronted with their own biases and privileges.

3.) But why couldn't it be peaceful?
Wasn't it peaceful? Or do you mean peaceful like withdrawing from the San Francisco event, which they also got slammed for? Peaceful like rtha's parade contingent described above that used extremely similar tactics?

4.) Why don't they study more civil rights history?
I highly doubt people in this thread have studied more civil rights history than a group that has made continuing that history their primary goal.

5.) But why not emulate more of the care-bear-friendly types of protest?
Stopping a parade isn't exactly Deacons for Defense and Justice.
posted by tofu_crouton at 11:50 AM on July 6, 2016 [39 favorites]


You can be in our parade but don't be the wrong kind of queers about it

That knife cuts anyone holding the wrong end of the blade.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Complete outsider here, looking for understanding. Why weren't the demands presented before the parade? Outside of the police one, I'm not seeing anything terribly controversial there. I'd look at that list and think, OK, here's some stuff we need to improve, and work to implement them as soon as possible. I can see the police one being more difficult, because the main group seems to want to work with the police to improve relations and they've had apparent success with that method, but perhaps there's a way to accommodate both approaches (or at the very least, agree to discuss it).

Did BLM approach PrideTO with these requests beforehand, and if so, why were they turned down?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]




Why weren't the demands presented before the parade?

This set of issues has been going on for several years. Multiple people and groups have tried to interface with the organization through "normal" channels.
posted by odinsdream at 11:57 AM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


Multiple people and groups have tried to interface with the organization through "normal" channels.

So why haven't these requests been met before? Why didn't the parade organizers long ago say, "you're right, we need to move on these ideas as soon as possible"? I'm just not seeing what's so radical about these demands.

Someone upthread mentioned only 6 full-time staff... is it just a matter of being overwhelmed? And if so, I'd just "volunteer" someone from the BLM movement and task them with helping implement them.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:02 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


GhostintheMachine, I seriously cannot take your comments as a good faith effort. You need to go read about this from the people involved. Jumping in here like this just reads as "wait but why is racism really a thing, are you sure it's really a thing?"
posted by odinsdream at 12:04 PM on July 6, 2016 [28 favorites]


Every year, more and more companies and organisations march. I help coordinate a bi group. we're explicitly queer, we're the only bi/pan group, our main reason to march is to raise awareness of bi/pan issues, we've been marching for 25 years (when there were no cheers and sometimes eggs) - and every year we're crowded more and more by lots of floats and big delegations with only tangential connections to the LGBTQ community there to sell beer or mortgages - or even heart health or animal rights or lots of good things that aren't really about LGBTQ rights. We've been annoyed about this for a while.
posted by jb at 12:07 PM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


So why haven't these requests been met before?

They've definitely been raised and Pride has seemed to want to make an effort, but then their version of inclusiveness is the slogan "You can sit with us" which I hope is such an obviously misguidedly divisive and othering statement that I don't have to expound on it here. The intentions are good but I don't know how that one made it out of a conference room.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:09 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


BLM actually didn't approach PrideTO about these issues. Grapevine says the board knew something would probably happen, but BLM didn't try to speak or negotiate with them before.
posted by jb at 12:10 PM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]




My first thought on hearing about this on the news was, "Anything that's signed is going to be walked back within a couple of days." It swirled around in my head with the super-apologetic tone that the traffic announcer used a couple of days earlier when saying that a death on the track was going to delay a couple of trains - no sympathy for the dead, but fear of commuter anger. People go mad when you stop the flow in T.O., as if you're doing violence to them. It's an over-the-top reaction, and I'm sure BLM took it into account as part of their planning.
posted by clawsoon at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Beaverton:

(satire. because Poe's law applies here)
posted by zachlipton at 12:20 PM on July 6, 2016


Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of the bus worked, not because she was 'sitting in' but because it made the bus company look like a bully, created support for the bus boycott, and touched off a successful phase of activism.

Like 'I made this account so Matt could have a $5 beer' said, Rosa Parks was the media face of the bus boycott, but the lawsuit which ended bus segregation was Browder v. Gayle and had the plaintiffs Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Jeanette Reese. Colvin in particular was dismissed as a face for the movement because of Respectability Politics (she was a pregnant teenager who spoke out aggressively against injustice). Respectability politics was part of the movement then, in order to win the hearts and minds of racist white people, but it's time for white people to stop being racist. Part of that is giving up on respectability politics and saying that all black people are worthy of life and respect, not just the ones who act in a certain manner.

Protest has always inconvenienced people, and arguments against protest has always been about how if they were nicer, or more generous, or more cultured, or explained themselves better than they would have gotten their rights. Also, none of these movements - even the ones of Martin Luther King Jr, who lets remember was murdered because of his prominence - were peaceful and didn't inconvenience others. (Also, it's worth noting how black woman activists were sidelined by civil rights even while often doing a lot of the grunt work).

Black Lives Matter is an LGBT, womanist, woman founded movement. It is disturbing to me the number of people who claimed they don't belong in Pride, especially since Pride exists due to LGBT women of color who fought back violently. It's disturbing to me that currently black people are not only being killed by police, but cis black men who are murdered receive more protest and recognition than the equally dead black women and LGBTQA people. It's disturbing to me that in this context of not just murder but the general acceptance of murder as the status quo, the presence of police is being treated as if it should be an unquestioned good and the people causing problems are those pointing out that they don't feel safe surrounded by people who can murder them without punishment.

This is intersectional - meaning that the people who have the most knowledge of and experience with what is targeting black, LGBTQ people are the LBTQ black women who experience that discrimination along multiple axes at once. Dismissing their experience and critiquing their actions because they are making space for themselves in a movement their predecessors helped found is ignoring history to a profound degree.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:34 PM on July 6, 2016 [46 favorites]


Between the Toronto Pride sit in and the (ostensibly done by a Mohawk group although the Mohawk nation has decried it) flag-burning in Kingston on Canada Day, I'm a little bit amazed at the sheer amount of hatred people seem to be able to spew. Like, I know, don't read the comments - but even just on facebook the local reaction (especially to the flag burning because let's face it, Canadians are racist as hell against natives) has been shocking.

I suppose that insofar as this type of thing is meant to bring awareness to the racism inherent in society it worked, because there are definitely people I've had to remove from facebook and consider just not talking to in real life. I consider myself to be pretty left of center about a lot of things, and I get not everyone has my views, but some of the stuff coming out of people is virulently hateful.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 12:43 PM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think it is a broadly accepted norm that it is bad form to rain on someone else's parade, and that it is not unreasonable to defend that norm when somebody deliberately breaks it to get attention, no matter how worthwhile the cause. I think it sets a bad precedent and I believe it will backfire. That said I hope BLM Toronto gets leverage out of this. They certainly got the attention.
posted by dmh at 1:10 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


it's not "someone else's parade".
posted by Krom Tatman at 1:11 PM on July 6, 2016 [58 favorites]


It's only "someone else's parade" if you think there are no queer poc.

I think it's bad form when you deliberately erase an entire group of already marginalized people.
posted by qcubed at 1:14 PM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


It's only "someone else's parade" if you think there are no queer poc.

That's neither the public perception nor is it consistent with the demands made by BLM Toronto and the way they made them.
posted by dmh at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


wow. everyone who is acting like black people and queer/trans people are different groups of people -- you are not only violently erasing queer/trans black people in general, but the leadership of BLM-TO as well as the american-led BLM specifically. it's not like this information is hard to find or hasn't been written about extensively ffs.

Why Black Lives Matter is Toronto's most effective LGBT movement
[Patrisse Cullors,] a Black Lives Matter leader, opens up about marrying her partner
posted by sea change at 1:20 PM on July 6, 2016 [28 favorites]


it is not unreasonable to defend that norm when somebody deliberately breaks it to get attention, no matter how worthwhile the cause.

Defending the status quo over the most worthwhile call for change simply because it is the status quo is the essence of hidebound conservatism and privileged blindness.
posted by Errant at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2016 [20 favorites]


That's neither the public perception

I didn't know you spoke for the public at large and had in-depth understanding of their perception.

nor is it consistent with the demands made by BLM Toronto

I would think that items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 are explicitly referring to queer poc things, but please, tell me how it's inconsistent with Pride, a celebration of queer identity.

and the way they made them.

My history seems to be a bit off, but my understanding of Pride was that it was kicked off with a protest.

A protest led by queer poc.
posted by qcubed at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


That's neither the public perception nor is it consistent with the demands made by BLM Toronto and the way they made them.

"Public" perception? I mean, my social groups grok it pretty well, and a hell lot of Pride movements across North America also made Black Lives Matter their marshals and honored groups this year, so they kind of get that too. Maybe you should stop hanging around racist white people so much if you think that their perception is what counts as "public" perception.

Also, every item on that list is pertinent to queer people. It doesn't matter if it doesn't include white people, because you know, queer PoC are queer too so we count as "queer people". You think that's divisive? Well, white people started it. At least white people still benefit from PoC focusing on our communities (aka: the whole history of Pride!), while we get jackshit from your lily white representations.
posted by Conspire at 1:25 PM on July 6, 2016 [24 favorites]


This is true, but what seems off to me is using it as a cudgel to criticize the protestors. It's the responsibility of the city government and police to provide for the public safety of people who show up to participate in and watch a city-sanctioned parade, and to be able to respond when something as predictable as a protest happens.

Gah. Follow this line of thought to its conclusion and, if this is a reasonable expectation, you are very close to BLM trying to provoke a confrontation with police trying to clear the protest in the interest of public safety. It also leads us away from personal responsibility for your actions and towards the state becoming our conscience. I sincerely hope this wasn't part of an unstated agenda for a group striving for inclusion.
posted by N-stoff at 1:27 PM on July 6, 2016


That's neither the public perception nor is it consistent with the demands made by BLM Toronto and the way they made them.

How you reach this conclusion eludes me.
posted by odinsdream at 1:30 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


BLM isn't (just) striving for inclusion. They are literally striving for THE STATE NOT TO KILL THEM.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:30 PM on July 6, 2016 [25 favorites]


The police have no record of serving and protecting communities of color.

Gotta agree with this. If there's a cop around, the threat level is increased. Talking to a cop if you can avoid it is always going to be risky, and this comes from someone that can pass as white any day of the week unless I'm standing right beside my sibling.
posted by ridgerunner at 1:31 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, again, to pretend that the demands were even remotely about police as an element of rational security planning for large groups is insulting. Read the demands. They are about providing space for police to use pride as a literal platform.
posted by odinsdream at 1:33 PM on July 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


(fwiw clearly there are groups who protest any police involvement at all. I am personally much more aligned with those positions, but that is not what the BLM demands are about)
posted by odinsdream at 1:33 PM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Have to admit, initially I was critical of BLM's disruption of the Pride parade. Reading these comments* has really changed my mind. If makes perfect sense for BLM to appear and protest at events where the attendees are left leaning. Many people who should be sympathetic and empathetic aren't necessarily so. And these are the people who need to be spoken to first. Disrupting a Trump rally isn't going to change hearts and minds.

*IMO, metafilter is pretty much the only site where all the comments worth reading.
posted by blairsyprofane at 1:42 PM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


That's neither the public perception

The "public perception" of the Stonewall Riots, one that is so pernicious that it's been perpetuated by Hollywood and left unchallenged by groups like the HRC for decades, is that they were the work of white gays and lesbians. That doesn't change the reality that the "T" and "Q" of LGBTQ, many of whom were PoC, were among those who fought for their rights.

It was awful to pull the "public perception" canard then, and it's awful to do it now. Doubly so when you're not even getting the facts right.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:47 PM on July 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


Gah. Follow this line of thought to its conclusion and, if this is a reasonable expectation, you are very close to BLM trying to provoke a confrontation with police trying to clear the protest in the interest of public safety.

If what is a reasonable expectation? City officials and police departments have a duty to provide for public safety in all foreseeable circumstances. They of course can't anticipate every possible threat, but "parade gets interrupted and delayed for half an hour" seems to be well with in a 3 sigma outcome range that they should have a plan for. They should have procedures in place to keep the people in the marshaling areas safe, regardless of what caused the delay. It could have been a broken down vehicle, a water main break, a downed electrical line... The fact that a protest is what caused the delay has very little to do with the outcome, and this makes me look very skeptically at someone who uses the public safety concern as a way to criticize the protesters.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:48 PM on July 6, 2016 [20 favorites]


I wonder how much of the difference is due to the status of the victims the protest was for, and how much is due to the commercialization of Pride with participation by companies like Wells Fargo and Chipotle.

Well if you are SF Pride, you veto the community chosen Grand Marshal because its too politically sticky and might upset the sponsors. I think the LGBTQ community needs BLM to remind them what a political movement is supposed to look like.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:51 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Gah. Follow this line of thought to its conclusion and, if this is a reasonable expectation, you are very close to BLM trying to provoke a confrontation with police trying to clear the protest in the interest of public safety.

That's not how I read it at all, personally. I read it as pointing out that BLM has a reasonable expectation that the parade organizers could cope with a 30 minute delay, and therefore should not be blamed for problems arising from the delay.

And I think they do have a reasonable expectation, because parades actually do get delayed not totally infrequently - the one that goes by my house has been delayed a couple of times.

It's not unreasonable that a large organization should have a plan for a hiccough in their arrangements, really. It's unfortunate that there wasn't one, but the more I think about it, the more it occurs to me that BLM could quite reasonably assume that such a plan was in place.
posted by Frowner at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2016 [18 favorites]


I wonder if BLMTO considered action that could have forced a meeting with Trudeau, Wynne, and Tory. I don't see anything wrong with the list of 'demands', but having a focus on police/Pride when the three heads of government are available (and together: this may never happen again) as well seems odd; why concentrate on the tip of the spear when the generals are right there?
posted by The Notorious SRD at 1:58 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, because going right to the top without having a coalition behind one is always very successful.
posted by allthinky at 2:01 PM on July 6, 2016


A lot of us here have had this conversation before. A lot of us have been having this same conversation, with the same points being made since Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

There was a lot of muddy, awful conversation and concern trolling after the Seattle protest where interrupting Sanders was just like, a bridge too far mannn.

I was going to write out a long response to the big omnibus comment on the parade being delayed and how unsafe it was. All i'm really going to say is that i was on the council that organized, helped assemble floats for/handle logistical stuff and marched in a big beloved city parade for many years and... Shit like that happens, even with halfway decent planning/management and no protesters. I get why everyone pins it on the protest, and i get why they want to and they will. Many of them probably aren't even doing it for assy reasons!

But the thing is, every time there's a protest like this, especially when it's targeted at/at the event or space of a progressive lefty organization or one that represents some variety of marginalized people... There's always some reason that makes it a bridge too far.

And after you've read and heard thousands of comments to that effect, it just reads as "shut up". I would listen to you but... is still shut up.

"Stop talking that way and maybe they'll/i'll listen" is one of the most platonically ideal, purely condescending and patronizing phrases or even concepts. And hell, multiple people every time take it to the place of "you're young and don't get it, this isn't how you get people to agree with you!".

Maybe the kids wouldn't be out in the streets if anyone listened to their parents and relatives, and everyone of that generation. Maybe the kids wouldn't be out in the streets if anyone listened to them when they spoke like their parents and people of that generation taught them to. Maybe the kids wouldn't be out in the streets trying something different, something "too rude".

The advice is always to stop the "circular firing squad" and go challenge the real bad guys. It's to talk to people who wont listen.

But it looks like we did, because here we are, on one of the leftier sites on the internet talking about it again. It's on the news. It got a ton of coverage. And i don't even mean this in some snide "any publicity is good publicity i guess" way, conversations are happening. Looks like it worked to me.

And it makes me think they picked the perfect target. Because older white people going "i would help you but..." while still claiming to be progressive aren't allies in this. And they wanna turn right around and say they are and still get credit.

Basically, i've seen every action like this as a "put up or shut up" call to people who should be on board. People who should stop getting a pass for whinging when it's never quite the right time or place or the right way or they're too rude.

I don't know, sorry if that was kind of disjointed. It's just really goddamn disheartening to see people who are progressive and in this case, likely queer, still dump shit on this. I get that this is hella complicated, but i always hear this in my head a lil bit.
posted by emptythought at 2:02 PM on July 6, 2016 [52 favorites]




I guess a lot of the backlash on twitter etc is because most people (Including myself until I read this thread) have no idea that BLM also focuses on LGBTQ issues, let alone that they have a Canadian sister organization. So the headline "BLM disrupts Toronto gay pride parade" is translated to "American civil rights organization focused on police violence against POC goes to Canada and disrupts pride parade for...reasons?" in our minds.

Knowing that they actually marched in the parade and their demands were focused on LGBTQ issues changes that narrative completely.
posted by ymgve at 2:06 PM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Gah. Follow this line of thought to its conclusion and, if this is a reasonable expectation, you are very close to BLM trying to provoke a confrontation with police trying to clear the protest in the interest of public safety.

Groups that engage in direct action or civil disobedience with the expectation they will be arrested as part of the protest almost always make it clear from the start that's what's going on. It's not something you should passive-aggressively half-ass, because unplanned escillation is how people get killed. I've seen no indication that BLM had that as a plan.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:12 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's weird - you don't even need to point to Stonewall to see queer people rioting in a good cause - ACT-UP and Queer Nation, for instance. Why are we so happy with such a generic, assimilated Pride? It's been that way as long as I can remember, and most years there's very little reason for me even to go. There's fried food and music of varying degrees of interest, the opportunity to buy knick-knacks, beer, big corporate logos on stuff, cops, straight people on the fringes hassling various visibly queer people including me, dance parties that are advertised in the usual "you must be this sexy for admission" way and that cost a lot...I mean, I'd almost rather go to the state fair because the food selection is better and you can see the butter sculpture.
posted by Frowner at 2:12 PM on July 6, 2016 [16 favorites]


(Not to diminish Stonewall - I was trying to convey that Stonewall is important but can't be dismissed as "that was then, we don't do that anymore")
posted by Frowner at 2:16 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. If you feel like it's going to disrupt the thread to respond point-by-point to a bunch of comments objecting to your previous comments, just skipping the thread instead of rolling it all into one mega-comment that's gonna do basically the same thing.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:17 PM on July 6, 2016


It's weird - you don't even need to point to Stonewall to see queer people rioting in a good cause - ACT-UP and Queer Nation, for instance. Why are we so happy with such a generic, assimilated Pride?

I imagine because that's what many participants and observers honestly want? I feel like there are LGBTQ people who go to events like this to celebrate the fact that they can live (what you would call, maybe, although they might not) generic, assimilated lives in a society where they used to not be able to. Something like how parades on St. Patrick's Day or Columbus Day functioned for the old ethic Italian-American or Irish-American communities. Whereas for others, Pride is meant to be a critique of that broader society, primarily in how it treats LGBTQ people but perhaps in other, more intersectional ways as well.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:20 PM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I am bothered by what seems the easy co-option of Pride by mainstream politics and capitalism. Nothing in the BLM demands seem particularly out of line, and their action is hardly extrem, even for Pride (as many people above have pointed out). If Pride exists for the LGBTQ community, then it needs to exist for all them, including PoCs and other "inconvenient" groups with awkward demands and requirements. Why should gay police be accommodated above gay PoC, especially when police are still a threat to parts of the community? Why should the nice photo ops of politicians be more important than the needs of queer groups? Why does lesbian and gay history and memory need to be made pretty and non-threatening for straight people (never mind making trans history and memory conform to the needs of cis people)?

And, yes, the problems at the staging area sound very frightening and dangerous, and they have had, I don't doubt, negative physical impacts on attendees. But blaming BLM for that, rather than looking at the organizers and city, is missing the mark. Because, in the absence of BLM, a stalled float or some other event could have delayed the march for nearly as long, and those people would have still be hurt -- the danger started way before the protest hit the streets.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


i really don't understand how anyone paying attention could miss that BLM is explicitly queer led and focused. if you didn't know this, you might want to consider where you're getting your news and how it's failing you.
posted by nadawi at 2:33 PM on July 6, 2016 [32 favorites]


i really don't understand how anyone paying attention

spoiler: people don't.
posted by ymgve at 2:46 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


i really don't understand how anyone paying attention could miss that BLM is explicitly queer led and focused. if you didn't know this, you might want to consider where you're getting your news and how it's failing you.

I'm not actually surprised that many people don't know this, because erasure, and I don't particularly blame any random person who doesn't know because I think the media has failed them. But really, this is the thing and I'm gonna say again what everyone has said because it's important

BLM activists at San Francisco Pride, who had been chosen as grand marshals

a hell lot of Pride movements across North America also made Black Lives Matter their marshals and honored groups this year, so they kind of get that too.

BLM activists have been invited to Pride (often given a place of honor!) because there is a connection and it is their movement too.

If you don't know, now you know. You know?
posted by atoxyl at 2:47 PM on July 6, 2016 [16 favorites]


i really don't understand how anyone paying attention could miss that BLM is explicitly queer led and focused. if you didn't know this, you might want to consider where you're getting your news and how it's failing you.

Anyone who didn't know this might also consider reading the lead article in the post before commenting, since it's says right up top BLM was named Pride’s honoured group of 2016 back in February and links to a story from the Daily Xtra (identified in the story as a Candadian LGBT news publication) that calls them "Toronto's most effective LGBT movement."
posted by layceepee at 2:55 PM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


yeah i'm not trying to cast blame, i'm just saying if this is something anyone had missed, it's probably time to consider how racist and or homophobic your media and news sources are.
posted by nadawi at 3:02 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


it's probably time to consider how racist and or homophobic your media and news sources are.

And not even necessarily (but I wouldn't want to bet against it) intentionally racist and homophobic. in our sound-bite media landscape, which courts an audience that isn't expected to hold more than one idea in it's head, no organization could stand for more than one thing. "This is a Black group." "This is a gay group." No wonder intersectionality is such a hard sell -- and if that means that disadvantaged groups (on the rise or not) can be set at each other instead of the bosses and their screws, well, that's just gravy.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


It took an embarrassingly long time for me to even realize there was a BLM Toronto, and then only because I lived in Toronto at the time and was consuming local news. For most Canadians, BLM is also "an American group"
posted by quaking fajita at 3:14 PM on July 6, 2016


They are not calling for the removal of police forces as an element of a security plan, but rather the discontinuation of giving the police a literal stage on which to promote themselves as police.

Are these gay groups from those departments? Or just random officers?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:07 PM on July 6, 2016


The point is that, if BLM Toronto wants the Toronto police to do a better job at serving PoC and other minorities, they should focus on protesting the mistreatment by the Toronto police, NOT on protesting the efforts that the Toronto police is making to do a better job at serving minorities (by participating in minority events).

This is a sentiment I've seen a lot lately, and it betrays a failure somewhere in the system because Black Lives Matter Toronto have absolutely been doing that. I had this conversation at work the other day; someone wanted to know why the Pride parade was the right venue for this protest. Their specific demands this time had everything to do with Pride, of course, but additionally this is a move that put BLM and their agenda in the spotlight. When I asked him if he knew about the tent city occupation outside Toronto police headquarters, he said he didn't. Exactly. EXACTLY.

It's not like this is the only thing BLM TO does, and it's not like BLM TO doesn't directly protest police misconduct and oppression. You just don't hear about it, despite coverage in traditional and social media. And I can't even say I'm that surprised or that the people not paying attention should feel all that bad. Thousands of protest actions fly under the radar every year, seemingly for the cardinal sin of being predictable. Well, of course BLM TO would protest outside police HQ, that's their whole schtick, you might say. But as Pride shows, BLM in general has been very good at provocative protests aimed at audiences you'd think would be most receptive (and arguably part of the choir being preached to), and showing that even here they can find all sorts of people willing to discredit their cause for not being nice enough.
posted by chrominance at 4:15 PM on July 6, 2016 [20 favorites]


And they started getting more and more crowded - potentially deadly crowded. Dreadnought lived in Britain during the Hilsborough disaster; he doesn't invoke it lightly. If there had been a panic, we would be talking about deaths, not inconvenience.

The mention of the Hillsborough disaster is what really made me stand up and take notice of his comment. I've never seen anyone invoke it who is not fully aware of the horror of not only what happened that day, but what has slowly been unfolding in the decades since.

I know the sense of panic that can start to set in when you're in a crowd like that, because I've been in similar situations. My ex-husband was at Hillsborough that day. His brother was part of the crush (and survived).

To carry on the Hillsborough analogy: almost immediately afterward, the press and much of the public smeared the Liverpool fans, calling them "thugs", "drunk and violent", "vile" and "yobs", amongst other things. It took literal decades of the families of the victims fighting to get their loved ones' names cleared and the record corrected. The fans were only fully exonerated of any blame this year, when it was also determined that the crush was 100% caused by the gross negligence and utter failure of the police services which lead to the jury delivering a verdict that all 96 victims were "unlawfully killed". It was, at its core, a stadium design and overcrowding issue which could have been prevented and was made worse by a massive cover-up by officials shifting the blame to an easy target.

The terrifying situation that the people at Pride found themselves in that day is deeply upsetting to me and I am 100% on their side. But it's the responsibility of the police, the city, and perhaps the Pride officials to have ensured there were better crowd control measures in place. BLM is not the enemy here.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:39 PM on July 6, 2016 [36 favorites]


Are these gay groups from those departments? Or just random officers?

Departments from the GTA and beyond each had their own official contingents in the parade (Toronto Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Hamilton Police, the various regional police services - Peel Region, etc.). The chiefs and various brass of those departments were among them, in addition to rank-and-file officers and their kids and spouses.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:41 PM on July 6, 2016


It is almost unbelievable to me that some people don't see Police participation in Pride as an unalloyed good. In a remarkably short span of time we have gone from Police being the enemies of queer persons to having out gay and trans Officers, as well as Officers and Chiefs marching in Pride parades. I honestly can't even comprehend what the opponents of Police participation want - some sort of supportive Police force but one that's not publicly or noticeably supportive? If we weren't at Pride - and especially if we weren't at Pride a week after the Pulse shooting! - we'd be getting hammered for our absence! There is literally no course of action Police can take with respect to Pride that won't be seen as horrible, at least by some.

Frankly, we have a duty to protect, and that includes the people that don't like us. Our Pride had a little crowd of protesters and we had at least two cops stationed to keep that from turning from an annoyance into a fight. Even with Police there we had to intervene a few times to keep it from getting physical, because emotions were understandably high. Parents lost track of kids, people drank too much and had to go to the hospital, people stole phones and cash from distracted Pride-goers, etc. Any big event will have these problems, and yet we're supposed to, what? Not be anywhere nearby? Stay hidden behind trees? Maybe roll by in a squad, but not actually get out and talk to people? How do you propose to handle traffic and crowd control along the parade route? What happens when we don't get lucky and intercept the next James Howell while he's still in transit?

I'm a gay cop. I've been out since day one of the academy. I worked Pride in uniform, during the day, and it was frankly restorative to my spirit. So much of my working life is spent handling the parts of society that no one else wants to and witnessing the absolute callous disregard that humans can have for themselves and their fellow humans. Seeing everyone at Pride just enjoying being themselves was great. And yes, having people walk up and be friendly was great as well. The entire weekend I had really positive interactions with people from every part of the cultural spectrum and it was really great to be reminded that I deal with a very small percentage of the population. The people coming up to say "hi" and "thank you" were every color, every culture, every orientation, age, and gender identity.

The weekend after Pride I met up with some coworkers and we grilled and hung out. Two white cops, two Asian cops (from two different Asian communities), one Black. I've got friends and coworkers representing every community I can think of in my city. BLM Toronto's demands were simply wrong and acceding to them is also wrong. I would absolutely love to see a closer relationship with the PoC in our communities, but gathering in a crowd and screaming "Uncle Tom" (and worse) at every Black Officer is doing the opposite of that. It is right to have Police participating in Pride, so that the young queer kids especially can see that we're out there and they can go to us for help.

Ugh. Last night I was approached by a young Black man with tears rolling down his face. He was attempting to talk to me while his "friend" repeatedly screamed "fuck you and fuck them!" six inches from his face. When I got the friend to calm down for ten seconds, the first young man told me he'd been robbed, but wouldn't go any further. No suspect description, no answer to if he wanted Paramedics, just more tears. Occasionally his friend would say "fuck them, they don't care about us." Eventually the robbery victim said "they'll kill me if I say anything" and left. Last night.

Maybe if I'd been able to find better words I could have forged a connection with him or helped him. I don't know. That particular interaction is going to haunt me - along with a lot of others.

That's all I've got.
posted by firebrick at 4:43 PM on July 6, 2016 [34 favorites]


We don't need cops hugging us with one arm for politics and shooting us with the gun in the other hand. If you really can't imagine what we want, I suggest you read the links above to the BLMTO demands and the zillions of links about police violence in communities of color that abound on the Internet.
posted by rtha at 5:02 PM on July 6, 2016 [38 favorites]


I honestly can't even comprehend what the opponents of Police participation want -

Removal of police floats/booths in all Pride marches/parades/community spaces.

literally don't march in the parade as a group of cops. work the parade, attend the parade, join the parade on other floats that align with your identity. the line seems pretty modest, honestly. i'm glad you've had a good experience as an out gay cop. i too wish that the relationship between cops and marginalized groups, especially those involving black people or other people of color, were better. that is on the cops, though, not black lives matter. a protest asking for a lot of things, including a removal of police floats, isn't why that young black man didn't trust you. i hope you do a lot of good in your line of work. i hope you keep your heart about you. i hope you keep being proud. but what is being asked isn't unreasonable considering how interactions between queer black people and cops have gone historically.
posted by nadawi at 5:04 PM on July 6, 2016 [34 favorites]


Cops could start recording statistics about how many people they kill.
posted by I made this account so Matt could have a $5 beer at 5:05 PM on July 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


Frankly, we have a duty to protect, and that includes the people that don't like us.

Police participation in the parade =/= police management of crowd control and public safety. Literally no one is arguing that the police shouldn't do their jobs.

It is almost unbelievable to me that some people don't see Police participation in Pride as an unalloyed good.

It's unbelievable to me that you don't understand that gay PoC might be uncomfortable with marching in a parade with an organisation that they consider to be persecuting them. For example:
The data from 2015, compiled over a period of six years, found that Black people in Brampton and Mississauga are three times more likely to be stopped by Peel Police than white people.

And as of 2013, there was a 69 per cent increase in the number of incarcerated Black Canadians, a growth seen over a period of 10 years.
Ugh. Last night I was approached by a young Black man with tears rolling down his face....Occasionally his friend would say "fuck them, they don't care about us."

And you you think that person would want to march in a parade with cops, why?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:08 PM on July 6, 2016 [22 favorites]


Maybe the whole reason why queer black people don't trust the cops is because you guys keep killing them, even now? And maybe no amount of waving at them from a float is really going to solve that either? Winning the trust of marginalized queer and trans members of your communities is something that takes actual concrete work, not empty gestures.

And quite frankly, the way cops keep on encroaching upon queer communities spaces and events, and demanding that they are entitled to these spaces when called out on it, does not fuel goodwill. I'm not talking about individual LGBT police officers. I'm not even talking about LGBT police officer organizations. I'm talking about the police department itself - what place does it have marching in a Pride parade, in full uniform, with their guns in full display? Just because there's out gay and trans cops in the department doesn't turn it into a LGBT organization.
posted by Conspire at 5:11 PM on July 6, 2016 [35 favorites]


tl;dr, all this didn't happen because BLM hates cops. They did this because they fear cops. And that fear is justified.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:24 PM on July 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


The no cops thing puzzled me, since I assumed it was gay police organizations marching (ala the Emerald Society in St. Paddy's Day parades) but it sounds like that's not the case.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:24 PM on July 6, 2016


BLM Toronto's demands were simply wrong and acceding to them is also wrong.

Which of the demands is wrong, exactly? Full and adequate funding for community stages? A commitment to more Black deaf and hearing ASL interpreters? A commitment to increase representation amongst Pride Toronto staff?

How are those "simply wrong"?
posted by KathrynT at 5:25 PM on July 6, 2016 [23 favorites]


Cops could start recording statistics about how many people they kill.

FWIW...That's actually tracked here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:26 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks firebrick sharing your perspective. I don't agree with everything you said, but I'm glad you're here and shared that.
posted by zachlipton at 5:26 PM on July 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


"isn't why that young black man didn't trust you"

He trusted me just fine. He told me who he was worried was going to kill him, and it wasn't me. Hell, his friend didn't exactly "mistrust" me, he just thought (incorrectly) that I didn't care about him.

KathrynT, the demands that nadawi put in bold and that others have stated several times are the ones I'm talking about that are wrong.
posted by firebrick at 5:39 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I too appreciate firebrick's perspective. But another reason for distrust of the police in Toronto is the sort of union leadership that TPS officers have elected (and certainly not all have or did cast votes for either one of these): Craig Bromell and Mike McCormack, neither of whom were or are exemplars of the type of policing that firebrick is talking about.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:45 PM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


thinking you don't care about him is not trusting you.
posted by nadawi at 5:48 PM on July 6, 2016 [16 favorites]


Police departments can provide the level of security appropriate to an event like this without having a damn float and some cookies for not kicking the shit out of the (white, cis) gay community like they've done within living memory of a bunch of people right here in this thread. Am I glad police departments don't have carte blanche to do that any more? Sure! You don't get a cookie for that. You all have a shitload of work to do, politically, practically, and culturally. So quit being sad we don't all want you at our parades and go do that work. Stand up to bad cops, bad practices, and POAs/PBOs that defend them.
posted by rtha at 5:48 PM on July 6, 2016 [28 favorites]


Also - the reason it's important to have us marching, and in booths, and on floats in uniform is that if we're not it looks like we're just being paid to be there. Especially when I worked a block party put on by one of the local gay bars, I was approached all night by people that said some variation of "are you disgusted seeing us?" "I bet you hate being here huh?" and so on. Lots of people couldn't imagine that we had volunteered to be there, and yes, some straight Officers volunteered too. It is important that people see us actively participating, in uniform, in our capacity as working Police. Especially for the younger kids. Queer persons can be in violent relationships, can be robbed, and can otherwise be victims of crime. I need them to know that they can go to me for help.

That's why that demand is wrong. Just standing by the side of the parade doing traffic control is not enough. Sitting on the edges is not enough.
posted by firebrick at 5:53 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


Are there any Toronto area gay police organizations? I couldn't find any with the Google (although I did find this NYT article on GOAL from 93.)

Also - the reason it's important to have us marching, and in booths, and on floats in uniform is that if we're not it looks like we're just being paid to be there

In uniform makes it look like you're on the clock.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:55 PM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Refusing to admit that the fear and distrust PoC may have some factual basis may let you play the aghast victim card, but it's also not very helpful.
posted by qcubed at 6:00 PM on July 6, 2016 [22 favorites]


Also - the reason it's important to have us marching, and in booths, and on floats in uniform is that if we're not it looks like we're just being paid to be there. Especially when I worked a block party put on by one of the local gay bars, I was approached all night by people that said some variation of "are you disgusted seeing us?" "I bet you hate being here huh?" and so on. Lots of people couldn't imagine that we had volunteered to be there, and yes, some straight Officers volunteered too. It is important that people see us actively participating, in uniform, in our capacity as working Police.

I appreciate that it's difficult to win back (or just win) the trust of communities that don't trust you (that is, the police). It's good that you (firebrick) are trying your hardest to do that, by walking the talk.

But you seem to be demanding that communities like BLM who don't trust you (again, for good reason) just trust you and be happy to march beside you. You (the police) haven't earned that yet. You're putting the cart before the horse.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:02 PM on July 6, 2016 [24 favorites]


KathrynT, the demands that nadawi put in bold and that others have stated several times are the ones I'm talking about that are wrong.

The one demand, you mean. The demand that police not march as police. Not the other eight demands, by far the majority.

What has the police community done AS A COMMUNITY to earn the trust of LGBTQ people of color? What specific actions? What changes have been made? What outreach has been done?
posted by KathrynT at 6:09 PM on July 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


> That's why that demand is wrong. Just standing by the side of the parade doing traffic control is not enough. Sitting on the edges is not enough.

You're right; it's not. And marching in a parade isn't going to make it better. What are you (individually, collectively) doing inside your own house? What are you doing with your recruit training? What are you actually doing to reform, change, and throw out corrosive practices? Serpico came out more than 40 years ago and if you open the paper in almost any major news market right now you can read about the latest investigation into corrupt police practices and CYA tactics. From the boys and girls in blue, it's denial and "just one bad apple" all the way down. For crissakes, just a few months ago we had the head of the SF POA talking about how a cop in a station shouldn't have reported a superior for using racist language. So why the hell are you arguing with us, here, about how BLM is mean to not want you in a parade??!
posted by rtha at 6:12 PM on July 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


Trying to make QTPOC feel safe near police at Pride is only a commendable goal if they are safe near police the other 51 weeks of the year.
posted by Krom Tatman at 6:13 PM on July 6, 2016 [19 favorites]


That's why that demand is wrong. Just standing by the side of the parade doing traffic control is not enough. Sitting on the edges is not enough.

Marching in uniform is not enough.
posted by edeezy at 6:15 PM on July 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


This piece of David Miller's mayoral legacy in Toronto is often forgotten...He got rid of Julian Fantino as police chief:

Fantino first came to attention by throwing gasoline on this situation in 1989. As head of one of the force’s divisions, he released a report to a municipal committee saying that while blacks made up six per cent of the population of one of the city’s highest crime areas, they committed most of its robberies, muggings and drug offenses.

Fantino produced this data despite the fact police in Ontario are forbidden to compile race-based crime statistics. Ontario’s solicitor general, Joan Smith, condemned Fantino for issuing information that “accomplishes nothing useful.” Black groups and social agencies castigated him for fueling prejudices.

In 1991, when he was superintendent in charge of the force’s detective services, Fantino ordered a lengthy spying operation – which included wiretaps – targeting Susan Eng, the soon-to-be head of the city’s police oversight board (ostensibly over concerns that a lawyer friend of hers was associating with drug dealers). Eng, an Asian-Canadian lawyer, was a vocal critic of the police chief over issues such as use of force and racism. The Toronto police not only listened in on her conversations, but those of her friends and colleagues, even eavesdropping on Eng at restaurants.

When the wiretapping came to light in 2007, Fantino refused to answer reporter’s questions about it and then claimed he had not ordered such an operation.

Fantino’s next career stop was chief of police in London, Ont. Between 1993-’95, London police laid 371 criminal charges against 45 men, with Fantino and his department claiming they were busting up a child pornography ring. This sensational accusation led to the creation of Project Guardian, an Ontario-wide investigation into similar rings.

But soon journalists discovered no such child porn ring ever existed in London. Instead, what they found were gay men primarily having sex with other men, or sometimes teens, and often young hustlers. While some of this sex was filmed, the videos were never sold or distributed commercially. (Fantino once appeared at a press conference beside hundreds of tapes seized from one man – although a minority of the tapes were pornography, none involved children, and all had been approved for public sale by Ontario’s censors).

When a young journalist in London, Joseph Couture, helped produce a CBC Radio exposé about the non-existent child porn ring, he found himself being harassed by London police, who once surrounded his house with cruisers and dogs. Couture was forced to seek help from the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, who complained to Fantino in 1995. Fantino was unrepentant.

After Fantino was appointed Toronto’s police chief, the outraged gay community demanded a meeting with him to discuss what happened in London. Five members of the community attended. “He came in like gangbusters and acted as if we were the bad guys,” recalls James Dubro, a highly-regarded author and gay activist. “He almost left the room several times.” Dubro says Fantino was unapologetic about his London tenure.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:18 PM on July 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


From a friend's fb (it's public):
Wondering why queer activists and our allies might have problems with putting cops on parade at Pride? Consider what happened at Paris Pride (Marche des Fiertés 2016) on Saturday, when peaceful protesters stepped in front of the float from FLAG (Flag Assoflag), the association of gay and lesbian law enforcement officers.

The protesters did not halt the parade or interfere with the FLAG contingent; they simply carried signs and handed out flyers denouncing police violence against marginalized communities, including trans and queer communities. In short, they were engaged in just the sort of political speech that democratic societies and Pride parades claim they support.

The response from the police? They beat the daylights out of the protesters, arrested them and hauled them out of the parade. To which I can only say thanks to the gay and lesbian cops for making it clear that the protesters had a point. Here's how one of the activists put it:

"We didn't want to celebrate a violent, sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic institution or let it proudly march in the parade. We don't want homonationalism as part of our struggle and our pride. The police have never been our allies. Faced with an institution that has never stopped oppressing us, we refuse to let the police co-opt our struggle."
The link (in French) to an article about it.
posted by rtha at 6:22 PM on July 6, 2016 [28 favorites]


Firebrick, I understand you're feeling a bit ambushed. I think you're doing good things, in your own way. It's just everything else is kind of tits-up.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:30 PM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Firebrick, I would be interested to know what your organization's response was to the events rtha described above.
posted by KathrynT at 6:35 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pride events have always been political. The whole point afaik was to demonstrate that there was as viable constituency of LGBTQ people, to be loud and in people's face as a political statement and celebration. Activists group use political events to be activist at. There's nothing shocking or worrying here except the racism.
posted by Ahniya at 6:37 PM on July 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Just standing by the side of the parade doing traffic control is not enough. Sitting on the edges is not enough.

"Walking the walk" is a metaphor, not the actual goal.
posted by Etrigan at 6:43 PM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Firebrick, I personally have never had a directly negative experience with cops. I appreciate the good work cops do to keep the community safe.

But here's the problem. For all the good that gets done, there's so much bad. There are the black sites in Chicago, the pre-Crime algorithms that are of questionable efficacy, the heavy-handed tactics. There are the traffic cops in Doraville, GA, that used to target Asian drivers. There are the executions of Black children. There are the stop and frisk actions targeting people with melanin.

And then you have the constant militarization of police departments across the country.

I believe there are good cops. But I don't know who, when I interact with them, is going to be a good one, and who isn't. I don't know who is someone I can trust, and who isn't.

Yes, it's just a few rotten apples. But the rest of that quote is that those few spoil the bunch. Dealing with a cop becomes a Schrödinger's challenge, and because of that, I, a person without much to fear from a cop, end up not wanting to be near one at all if I can help it.

Cops no longer represent safety. They represent danger. And the worst part of it is the danger might be the cops themselves. There's precious little trust anymore, and as a police force, it seems like the goal is only to pick at the motes in non-police eyes, especially when they're brown... and there's not enough recognition to deal with the beams in their own.
posted by qcubed at 7:06 PM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


the reason it's important to have us marching, and in booths, and on floats in uniform is that if we're not it looks like we're just being paid to be there.

I'd say the opposite. Rainbow TPS t-shirts and let us see what your kicking-around shoes are. Why never something like that? Fuckin' Constable Johnson over here with the fishbowl platforms.
posted by rhizome at 7:13 PM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


And let’s get a couple of things straight, just a little side note: The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, alright? Stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance—for our resistance—then you’d better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest… If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

- Jesse Williams
posted by rtha at 7:32 PM on July 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


"We never learn from history."

good bumper sticker
posted by philip-random at 8:03 PM on July 6, 2016


KathrynT, this is the first mention I've ever seen of it. Do you expect every Police agency to issue an official response to every incident regarding Police anywhere else in the entire world? I'm also not a huge fan of the practice of immediately, uncritically accepting any one person's account of events, be that person an Officer or not.

That's in fact a huge problem for us, because anyone can tweet, or post on FB, or post a video. Generally speaking, until an actual thorough investigation is completed we can't. And even after that investigation is completed, we generally can't just post the results of that investigation, and even when we can, that tends to be months later and is generally ignored. So someone says "I had a bad experience with the Police," and unless it becomes the sort of issue where public release of evidence is compelled, information such as dash or BWC video that might contradict that story remains confidential.

I have had one (1) complaint filed against me. It was made by someone not involved in the call, which was an aggravated assault. It contained several errors of fact, such as saying I had handcuffed a Black man when in fact there were no Black people present. But if that person told her story to her friends, posted it on FB or twitter, etc, how many of you would think she was wrong on such a basic point? If you found out that she was, would you question any of her other allegations? She made the complaint well after the event, and nothing of evidentiary value was recorded on my dash camera, so I didn't classify that video for retention. The video had been automatically purged by the time IA got the complaint. Would you find that suspicious?

Some of my partners about a month ago were flagged down in the street by a man that said "I was just stabbed, and that's the guy that stabbed me." He then pointed across the street to another person. That person was taken into custody at gunpoint. The victim really did have a stab wound, but we were unable to find the knife, which was either ditched somewhere or passed off to someone else, and this was when Police happened to roll up to the scene within seconds of the stabbing occurring. One of the arrestee's friends pulled out her phone almost immediately and started recording, including a narration about how the cops were pointing guns at her friends for no reason whatsoever. Of course the victim was concealed from the recording by a squad car and, shortly, an ambulance. If you saw that video on youtube, would you even for a second consider that the Police were in fact acting appropriately?

Maybe the French Police acted inappropriately, maybe they didn't. I have no idea and I do not have access to the investigative resources to accurately determine the answer to that question.

"Firebrick, I understand you're feeling a bit ambushed."

Despite the recent creation of this account, I'm a long-time member of the site. I know it's not friendly to my profession, and I know I'm not going to affect the opinions or positions of lots of people. I made this account so that the people reading can get a glimpse of an alternate perspective. And for obvious reasons the connection between Police and Pride is important to me.

"What are you doing with your recruit training?"

My agency's academy has training from local LGBT groups, presentations by queer and trans persons (both Officer and not), etc. Our department policy manual has explicit instructions on addressing non-binary, gender non-conforming persons. We have multiple non-enforcement outreach efforts including PAL, booths at events such as Pride, etc. In the relatively short time I've been with my agency, multiple Officers have faced discipline ranging from coaching, extra training, lost pay, all the way up to termination, including veterans with 25+ years on. There's more, but I don't want to get explicit to the point where I identify my agency.

"Cops no longer represent safety. They represent danger."

It is so hard for working Police not to react badly to statements like this. There's a particular neighborhood of my city where the gunfire is literally every night. I don't primarily work there (although I have), and during the summer I'm within 1-5 blocks of gunfire a couple times a month. Aggravated robbery and assault are constant issues, although my precinct made about 20 agg rob arrests last month and the month before and it has put a noticeable dent in it. We get a few minor stabbings every month, and by far the worst homicide scene I've been to was a woman stabbed to death in a petty argument. I won't go into details, but it was terrible.

Last summer we had a five-way gunfight in the middle of a crowded intersection with a few hundred innocent bystanders. All five shooters were arrested without Police firing a single shot. I've caught multiple people with loaded illegal guns, as have others in my precinct. And you don't need a weapon at all to knock someone out and then stomp on their unconscious head and body with three of your closest friends. Not to mention the people armed with knives etc. We had a woman kidnapped at gunpoint last summer, held captive for several hours, and brutally sexually assaulted. Through good Police and investigative work we were able to identify and capture one of her assailants, who was recently convicted. Believe me, there are very dangerous people out there who do not hesitate to hurt people very seriously.

And in the face of all that, you say I "represent danger." There's not a whole lot I can do or say in response to that, because it's a set conclusion. I can go to work, do my job as best I can, and at the end of the day I realize none of it will ever make a difference to some people. Oh well.

The reality, to me, is that the Police are a single, small part of the puzzle.

Again I don't want to identify my agency, but African Americans are about 30% of my city's population and 75-80% of its shooting and murder victims, particularly young men. PoC more broadly are about half of my city's population and close to 95% of the shooting and homicide victims. Most of this violence takes place in a part of the city that was established as the Black neighborhood at the city's founding and has been the target of over one hundred years of systemic racism including, yes, by the Police. We are currently blamed and relentlessly criticized for not doing enough to quell the violence and simultaneously criticized for almost any enforcement action taken in that neighborhood. But we have very little power to affect the quality of education in that neighborhood's schools. We have very little power to provide jobs to the population there, especially since (as I've said in a previous thread) there is a steep and profound cost young PoC have to pay to join the force. They are ostracized from their community, hated by their peers, and subjected to abuse that I will never face on the street. We've all seen the studies where you send out resumes with "Black" names and get fewer responses than the "white" names. My badge gives me precisely 0 leverage on that problem. Police do not have the power to fix these problems on our own.

When called on to be a social worker (as I frequently am) I try to help. When called on to be a mental health worker (as I frequently am) I try to help. When a victim of crime needs help, I try to do that. When I investigate or arrest, I try to be professional. Sometimes I screw up, and I try to recognize that and own it and improve. My ability to do much beyond that is pretty minimal.
posted by firebrick at 8:14 PM on July 6, 2016 [21 favorites]


firebrick, you didn't answer KathrynT's question: "What has the police community done AS A COMMUNITY to earn the trust of LGBTQ people of color? What specific actions? What changes have been made? What outreach has been done?"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:22 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


> KathrynT, this is the first mention I've ever seen of it. Do you expect every Police agency to issue an official response to every incident regarding Police anywhere else in the entire world?

Since we don't know where you work, and since this post is (mostly) about TO, it seems unlikely that anyone here is leveling accusations at your particular agency. You, though, seem willing to defend all agencies by talking about how great yours is. We can't generalize, but you can extrapolate, I guess? We can't make assumptions about the truth of someone who speaks about police brutality, but we should totally take your word about where you work and how good you are and how hard you work and how helpful you are (and, I guess, by implication, how not-racist the implementation of your policing is).
posted by rtha at 8:24 PM on July 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


I want to start off with this bit:

The reality, to me, is that the Police are a single, small part of the puzzle.

You are, with this statement, unequivocally correct. Policing is a single, small part of the puzzle. It is, however, the part of the puzzle that is capable of exerting the most brutal force in the most acute fashion, in a way that white flight, redlining, defunding social services, fearmongering, and lack of representation can't.

It is that acuteness, that brutality, that helps trigger the most visceral reactions. No PoC really ignores any of the other stuff, but the issues with current policing tendencies are like the bear trap around the ankle, and the other stuff is like the nerve gas and radioactivity strewn about.

And in the face of all that, you say I "represent danger." There's not a whole lot I can do or say in response to that, because it's a set conclusion. I can go to work, do my job as best I can, and at the end of the day I realize none of it will ever make a difference to some people. Oh well.

Oh well?

Here's the thing. It's not a set conclusion. You want to think it is, because then it gives you an out. "It won't ever make a difference to some people," you say, "so why fucking bother?"

I mean, if that's how you want to approach it. There are plenty of things that people have suggested that the Police could do. My whole post was explaining what leads me to that current feeling, but I was trying to stuff as much hope that the Police could be better, to actually Protect and Serve all people as they should, into it. I was trying to say that there's a reason why I'm wary, and it comes from witnessing and observing all the other stuff that happens, even though I've never had a rotten encounter. Just because the some cops are good to me does not mean that they're good to my friends; just because some cops are cruel to others and not to me doesn't mean that they won't be cruel to me if they think I cross a line.

I don't know what you look like. If we met on the street, you in your uniform, me in my jeans and button down, it's quite possible we'd go our own ways without really noticing each other too much. I'm sure you are a good cop, but I wouldn't know that the person I just passed was Firebrick, Stand-Up Cop, or the next Jason Van Dyke.

That's what worries me. That's what worries a lot of people, because the next Jason Van Dyke might turn out to have a long history of police brutality, but was never really disciplined. Is it within the realm of your possibility to see why this situation is inimical, is corrosive to the public trust in the Police?

There are lots of ways to rebuild that trust, and people have been posting them all around, in this thread, over the internet; I know it's a long road, and I know it must sting to be told "I don't trust you," if you've never done anything wrong, being a paragon of law enforcement. But where there's a will, there's a way. It just doesn't seem like there's much will, at least overall.

One day I'd like to feel safe around the police. It's not going to happen overnight.

But if you don't think doing your job to the best of your ability is gonna change anything, why bother?

Oh well indeed.
posted by qcubed at 8:38 PM on July 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


I can't say it changes my mind, but I really do appreciate you sharing your perspective here, firebrick.
posted by lalex at 8:38 PM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


You know, I was composing a response to all this ...and I realized that I was scared to cross a cop, even on the internet. I know too many people who have crossed cops and been targeted for harassment, and a couple of people who crossed cops and were jumped by off-duty ones.

That, firebrick, is where things stand for me. I'm afraid of cops. In the moment it's not too bad, but when I have time to think, the experiences of people I know frighten me. You can absolutely count me as someone who is not reassured when I see cops at Pride, or indeed anywhere.

And I have experienced only the least little bit of what many people face.
posted by Frowner at 8:42 PM on July 6, 2016 [20 favorites]


i still don't understand why any of this means police need to be on floats in gay pride parades above objections of queer people harmed by racist (and homophobic) policing.
posted by nadawi at 8:43 PM on July 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


rtha/Potomac, here is the question KathrynT asked that I was responding to.

Potomac, the question you quoted is pretty much unanswerable. "Police" are not "a community," and independent agencies vary widely and work in different communities and have tried different things with varying degrees of success.

I hope we can also appreciate the irony of demanding "what outreach has been done?" in the same thread where we're excoriated for participating in an official capacity in Pride and, for example, having a booth where our sole purpose is to talk to people. Maybe it would be better to ask "what outreach would be considered acceptable or valid?"

"We can't make assumptions about the truth of someone who speaks about police brutality, but we should totally take your word about where you work and how good you are and how hard you work and how helpful you are (and, I guess, by implication, how not-racist the implementation of your policing is)."

Yep, I agree that's tough. There's no way for me to even prove I'm an Officer. Basically what I'm asking is for people to seriously consider the possibility that I'm being as honest and unbiased as I can be. I don't actually expect to have any effect on your personal outlook, rtha (or nadawi, or Frowner, etc), but it still feels worthwhile. Maybe it's not, but I'm off tonight.

"But if you don't think doing your job to the best of your ability is gonna change anything, why bother?"

Because I don't like seeing people hurt, I love my city, I like my partners and coworkers, and when someone needs me I want to be there for them. Lots of other reasons besides.
posted by firebrick at 8:49 PM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


According to a lot of white people on Twitter and Facebook who weren't even at the parade, this was the worst thing that ever happened anywhere.z
reminds me of:
You Are Not The Target Audience
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:51 PM on July 6, 2016


Pride is not the only venue to do outreach. If you take people asking that police not have a certain, very specific type of involvement in Pride as "irony", that is 100% you choosing to take your ball and go home because those mean POC who are inventing police brutality hurt your feelings.
posted by Krom Tatman at 8:52 PM on July 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


To expand on the point of "police signifying danger" these days. Thinking about it, I'm realizing that it's only here in the US that I feel that way. I'm sure some of it is ignorance of the facts on the ground in other countries, but not knowing them and the limited experience I have with them predisposes me to think they're there to Protect and Serve. I feel safe. That's the kind of feeling that I want to have at home, not just while I'm away.

---

Because I don't like seeing people hurt, I love my city, I like my partners and coworkers, and when someone needs me I want to be there for them. Lots of other reasons besides.

Virtually nobody likes seeing people hurt. A lot of people have civic pride. But where I live, over many, many years, the behavior of the police department has eroded the faith I and others have in the police, and that's a shitty place to be in.

I get it, it stings to know that many people see you as something to be feared, not trusted.

Rome and Chicago may have burned down, but they were rebuilt. It took a while.
posted by qcubed at 8:54 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, Firebrick. If you are asking trans people and people of color to feel safe with police participating in Pride, if you are asking these people to trust you with their safety and their lives, then I do expect that your organization will respond to an event where police beat the crap out of a bunch of trans people and people of color at a Pride event. If the police can't even make a statement -- if they can't even be bothered to be aware that this has happened -- then what basis do vulnerable populations have to trust you? What have you done to earn that trust?
posted by KathrynT at 9:06 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


You can do outreach without having a damn float in a parade. You can do it without looking like the occupying force that far too many people see you as.

Listen to what we are saying. Stop defending what you think we are attacking and listen to us. Go back to work on your next shift and talk to your co-workers and commanders about that bad feeling that having Cops on Parade engenders in the communities you are trying to serve and what you can do to help lessen that feeling. You know what doesn't lessen it? Telling those people that you're a good guy! #Notallcops! Stop talking at us and talk with your fellow officers about how real this fear is. We're not making it up, and it isn't unjustified. Stop telling us we're wrong because you're a good cop and we should just trust you. You may be, but that doesn't make us wrong.
posted by rtha at 9:06 PM on July 6, 2016 [18 favorites]


So, over in the other thread, AFABulous told folks that there was just another shooting of a Black man by a cop at a traffic stop in Falcon Heights MN. There's what is apparently a very graphic video shot by the man's girlfriend and there were little kids in the car. It's not clear how the guy is doing - twitter seems contradictory. (#FalconHeightsShooting)

THIS IS WHY PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF COPS.
posted by Frowner at 9:08 PM on July 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


There's no way for me to even prove I'm an Officer. Basically what I'm asking is for people to seriously consider the possibility that I'm being as honest and unbiased as I can be.

It's worth noting that no one here has questioned your assertion that you're a police officer, or the accuracy or honesty of your recounting of your experiences.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:10 PM on July 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


"Cops no longer represent safety. They represent danger."

It is so hard for working Police not to react badly to statements like this.


The fact that the people you are supposed to be protecting fear you instead should not make you angry at them. It should make you ashamed. The police made this situation, with decade after decade of bigotry and brutality and corruption, and, worse, the collaboration in this behavior by cops who may have better things in their hearts but behave no better than gang members when it comes to defending their own. This is the tradition you belong to, the tradition of electroshock torture in Chicago PD backrooms and group sexual abuse of underage girls in Oakland, and you cannot wish it away by feeling innocent and aggrieved really hard.

For many years, I believed that, while there would always be at least some explicitly racist cops, as overt racism dwindled in the U.S. there would be many fewer of them, and, more importantly, that their colleagues and superiors would be much less likely to cover for them. The events of the last couple of years have proven me terribly wrong.
posted by praemunire at 9:17 PM on July 6, 2016 [24 favorites]


I just want to add that the symbolic harm of these shootings is impossible to express in words - that the state itself, the one thing against which there is almost no appeal, can just kill you, like that, in front of your loved ones on an ordinary day and no one will pay any price no matter how often it happens - that is such a huge psychic harm to any person who is not so protected by privilege that they will never encounter state violence. It is terrible. It is terrible.

If you want to do something to fix cop-community relations, you work to stop these shootings from within. Be a cop who speaks up against them as a cop. Put your career and self at risk by standing up to say that this is wrong. Go on record. Help the protesters.

No amount of outreach booths or social work on duty can undo the harm of these shootings. This is terrible. It's lynch law. It undercuts any possibility of a whole society. It is a steady state of horror.
posted by Frowner at 9:17 PM on July 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


To bring this fully intersectional, i also think that the police are a danger to mentally ill people and to poor people. Police harassment of the homeless is a real thing, and queer youth of colour and esp trans youth of colour end up poor and homeless more than most. This is esp true when the police enforce state violence against sex workers. That is one of the things BLM have talked about privately when I have talked to them, but I did not see in the list of demands. Only certain kinds of commerce or even sexualized commerce seem to be allowed. Aside from the carding, or the like--i wonder why sex work was not brought up in the BLM list of demands.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:25 PM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Krom: no, it's not 100% that at all, and you're frankly communicating in snarky bad faith with someone who is pretty clearly being earnest and respectful.

Official participation in Pride is not the only outreach, but it is outreach. This thread is about a particular demand in a particular city that Police not do that outreach. In this thread, people are asking me "what outreach has been done." Can you honestly tell me you don't see any tension whatsoever between those facts?

I also mentioned PAL (Police Athletic League). I personally attend monthly community meetings for a couple different communities in my sector. My agency has other efforts going, but getting too specific would identify my agency. I'm also not a part of those efforts so I honestly don't know exactly how they function.

"Thinking about it, I'm realizing that it's only here in the US that I feel that way. "

Heh. One of the above communities I attend meetings for is principally an immigrant community and it's so funny comparing this statement with what I hear from them regarding Police in the old country. And again, comparing that with my own experiences.

But believe me, I'm well aware that Police are not well liked. There's a reason firefighters can have custom license plates identifying them as such and we don't. And frankly I think my coworkers with the thin blue line stickers are asking for their cars to broken into and vandalized (and yes, it's happened, several times in my precinct).

rtha, can I only listen to you, or do I also get to listen to the people that approached me during Pride and were happy to see us there? Do the people that want us actively participating have a say at all? What about my coworker that's a lesbian WoC and likes attending Pride every year? What about Trudeau, as perhaps the ultimate government agent in Canada should he not have participated? My agency doesn't have a float, but we do march and run a booth, and it's been a really positive experience for me every year in terms of making good connections with a huge variety of people. Again, including queer PoC. No one speaks for all queer people or all PoC.

I want to be there, I want to be visible, and I believe my presence outside of an enforcement capacity does real, tangible good. My belief is partly founded upon my experiences and conversations I've had doing so.

I do talk with my coworkers, regarding for example things like language used for transgender persons. We've had some conversations about the Toronto parade, but again, I disagree with BLM's demand that Police not participate in the parade or have a booth. I think BLM is wrong with that demand, so I'm not going to champion it at work.

red thoughts: I said that in response to rtha pointing out that I'm asking people to be skeptical of claims of Police misconduct. She is correct in saying that the same request is rightly made of my claims of good Police conduct/false complaints/etc.
posted by firebrick at 9:32 PM on July 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


maybe if the stream of videos of state sanctioned murders slows, cops will be more welcome in all the places they demand space.
posted by nadawi at 9:45 PM on July 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


As a queer person, I want to thank firebrick for offering a different viewpoint.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:47 PM on July 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


There's a reason firefighters can have custom license plates identifying them as such and we don't.

You know that reason is that firefighters don't murder unarmed PoC on a weekly basis without consequence, right?

I want to be there, I want to be visible, and I believe my presence outside of an enforcement capacity does real, tangible good.

It very likely does. But it also clearly makes many people uncomfortable. Those are the people who aren't talking to you.

Make no mistake, it's very clear you are in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation with respect to outreach. Any that's probably very hurtful for you. But it's not the responsibility of the people who are rightfully afraid of cops to soothe their hurt feelings at being feared.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:48 PM on July 6, 2016 [18 favorites]


maybe if the stream of videos of state sanctioned murders slows, cops will be more welcome in all the places they demand space.

Have I missed something that happened in Canada? The history of policing in Canada is quite separate from the history of policing in the US.
posted by GuyZero at 9:50 PM on July 6, 2016


is firebrick canadian? also this entire thread hasn't been just about police and pride in canada, it has been pretty wide reaching, as far as i can tell.
posted by nadawi at 9:54 PM on July 6, 2016


Have I missed something that happened in Canada? The history of policing in Canada is quite separate from the history of policing in the US.

Yes. The Toronto police have subject to accusations of systemic racism against PoC (including killings), similar to various police departments in the US. For example. This is why there are Canadian chapters of the BLM movement.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:54 PM on July 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Heh. One of the above communities I attend meetings for is principally an immigrant community and it's so funny comparing this statement with what I hear from them regarding Police in the old country. And again, comparing that with my own experiences.

Of course.

It depends on what the 'old country' is. I mean, were I to go someplace and have those discussions, I'm sure my experiences would be colored by what my 'old country' was as well--the US.
posted by qcubed at 9:56 PM on July 6, 2016


Also chiming in to say thanks to firebrick for his perspective, as well as the other informed commentators here. This is an issue (series of issues, really) I know very little about and I appreciate the range of experiences and knowledge being shared here, and I understand how difficult that sharing can be.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:07 PM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Those are the people who aren't talking to you."

To an extent, sure. But I'm used to getting the side eye.

I also talked to a few different people who were, in fact, uncomfortable and nervous. Some of that was what was going on with the people who opened by asking if I was "disgusted" or "hated being here." A few people just said "I've always been afraid of Police, but-". Others watched the booth from 15 or 20 feet away until I smiled and waved and said "happy pride!" and then they came over to talk. We had people challenging us on Police practices, all that stuff. That's part of the tangible good I personally saw in our presence there.
posted by firebrick at 10:27 PM on July 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


> rtha, can I only listen to you, or do I also get to listen to the people that approached me during Pride and were happy to see us there? Do the people that want us actively participating have a say at all? What about my coworker that's a lesbian WoC and likes attending Pride every year? What about Trudeau, as perhaps the ultimate government agent in Canada should he not have participated? My agency doesn't have a float, but we do march and run a booth, and it's been a really positive experience for me every year in terms of making good connections with a huge variety of people. Again, including queer PoC. No one speaks for all queer people or all PoC.

Well, I don't see you listening to us (who don't want Police on Parade, in this instance) at all, so...do whatever you want, I guess, since that's what you seem determined to do. You can't even bring yourself to say "I hear you, I acknowledge that many people are rightfully afraid of police, I will not defend terrible police by talking about how great my police are."

I don't speak for all queer POC. You definitely do not speak for all cops. Quit acting like I should give your words more weight than the police bullets used to kill more than 500 people already just this year in the US, and it's only the first week of July.

On the upside:

SFPD manages not to kill armed suspect: "The very good news is that the man who created a four-hour standoff with police in the Tenderloin this afternoon is not dead.

That, even the chief of police appears to acknowledge, is the result of more than a year of active, vocal protests that led to the dismissal of former Chief Greg Suhr."
posted by rtha at 10:32 PM on July 6, 2016 [26 favorites]


Yeah it's pretty amazing news that he's still alive and I'm thankful to everyone that it ended ok. I was fairly close by and heard the beanbag rounds go off and was really fearing the worst.
posted by zachlipton at 10:37 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


In general, what I've learned is, I am not in charge of other people's struggle, only my own. I don't live their experience, so I shouldn't tell them what they should do. That's patronizing and patriarchial.

It's okay to upset people and make them uncomfortable with a protest. Go look at footage of a Sit-in in the South, those white people were upset. That doesn't make me think sit-ins were wrong.
posted by gryftir at 12:41 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to figure out if I should be a Web Developer who is a Random Prole, (note the caps) but probably not. When did a prosaic noun like "officer" or "police" demand an initial cap, like they were honorary titles? They're jobs, organizations, nothing more.

Firebrick, I wish I could say I appreciate your perspective, but your anecdotes are so "well, actually" I had to step out for a bit. There seems to be zero insight or empathy for the downtrodden in them, just demands to be Respected and Honored and Liked. It's chilling to see.

You know what? There is zero "other side" to people being shot in traffic stops, or having the shit beat out of themselves at a parade, or, hell, being shot, period. Those are 100% a failure of the police to do their job, at least as it's understood by us unwashed.

You could march in parades for the next 1,000 years and not do 1% as much good as a single incident of refusing to look the other way when one of your colleagues does something repugnant.
posted by maxwelton at 12:51 AM on July 7, 2016 [29 favorites]


SFPD manages not to kill armed suspect: "The very good news is that the man who created a four-hour standoff with police in the Tenderloin this afternoon is not dead.

Justice for Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile is the next black people existing in public being alive after interacting with the police.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:24 AM on July 7, 2016


When did a prosaic noun like "officer" or "police" demand an initial cap, like they were honorary titles?

The Wikipedia article for police officer says,
In the United States, "officer" usually is the formal name of the lowest police rank. In many other countries, "officer" is a generic term not specifying a particular rank, and the lowest rank is often "constable".
So I've encountered it capitalized on many occasions when specifically referring to the rank, which I believe would be stylistically orthodox. In general, heaven forfend stylistic heterodoxy, but this doesn't seem like a great place to be nitpicking about whether someone is capitalizing nouns like a writer in German or archaic English might, given the gravity of what's under discussion.
posted by XMLicious at 2:53 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


this doesn't seem like a great place to be nitpicking about whether someone is capitalizing nouns like a writer in German or archaic English might, given the gravity of what's under discussion.

Speaking as a professional editor and a person who was serving in the U.S. Army at the moment they decided to start capitalizing "Soldier" in all documentation, I think it does matter. firebrick isn't doing that by accident. It is the result of a conscious choice by either firebrick or firebrick's department to do that, and it is absolutely a means of elevating the importance of p/Police, if only in their own minds. It's not Orwellian, but it is an attempt to influence the language and the thoughts behind it.
posted by Etrigan at 3:32 AM on July 7, 2016 [21 favorites]


It seems worth noting that firebrick or firebrick's department has made the same conscious choice with "Black" and "Paramedic". If it really is a coordinated thing rather than just a personal tic, that does seem material, and I apologize for misapprehending this and suggesting otherwise.
posted by XMLicious at 4:04 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


While I appreciate firebrick being willing to participate here, it occurs to me that I have never heard one police officer support BLM. Never. I have heard about how black communities should change so that officers don't kill them, how the officer is The Law and you should do what he says no matter what, but I never heard any police institution take a good hard look at themselves to say, "We have a killing POC for no damn reason problem. How do we begin to fix that?"

The onus is not on BLM to act in good faith and make nice demands of police; the onus is on police to start changing and working on their institutional racism (also, stop killing POC) and quit dismissing BLM's demands because it makes them uncomfortable/angry.

Being a smiley friendly presence at Pride absolutely does not cut it. Not when you're part of a force that routinely kills POC, even queer POC.
posted by Kitteh at 5:25 AM on July 7, 2016 [32 favorites]




PinkMoose, thanks for bringing that up. The intersection of police and mental illness happens to be where my own personal night terrors lie, and it's something I wish we could find a little more room for in conversations about police conduct and brutality.

More directly on topic, the Pittsburgh Pride parade happened on the day of the Orlando shooting this year, so it was both a healing and fraught place to be that morning. There was a uniformed police presence marching. It was uncomfortable for me, even as a white cis queer woman whose own mental health problems are generally fairly well managed barring unexpected run-ins with my worst PTSD triggers. I imagine it was significantly more uncomfortable for other people in the crowd who live at different places on those axes. I imagine there were probably also some folks who were pleased to see the police presence there and may have felt some warm fuzzies about police supporting the queer community, and/or on that particular day may have felt safer with a police presence if they were worried about the Parade being targeted for a similar hate crime. That's nice for them, and for the police, but I don't personally feel that upside outweighed the downside of others who may have felt scared, triggered, or unsafe on a day when so many of us already felt that way. Which isn't to say that my personal feelings about where the balance lies are correct, but that there are conversations worth having about this and I'm grateful to those who are doing the difficult work of forcing those conversations where they otherwise aren't happening.
posted by Stacey at 6:00 AM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Firebrick, I'm hearing a lot about how you're a good police officer, how the people you work with are good police officers, how you are innocent and powerless to address the fear and hatred people have of good police officers--

And I'm hearing less about the very legitimate causes of that fear and hate. It's all about how hard it is to be a police officer.

You think that you are innocent and powerless because you do your job well; that's all you can do. Perhaps you believe that if someone in your department used unjustified violence, that you would not do anything to cover it up--that you would want them to see justice.

But your perception of that unjustified violence is lessened by your being a police officer. You are sympathetic; you look for reasons it is not true. You say that video lie--and yes, video does lie sometimes, but video doesn't lie all the time, not when you have dozens of video, dozens of names. In the latest thread, we were talking about the video of one unjustified shooting of a black man when another one hit the news. The killings and assaults are relentless.

You don't want to think that you're complicit in that, and that's understandable. You probably think of yourself as a fundamentally good guy. I would probably trust you to help me if I was the victim of a crime. But there's a limit to that trust: I probably would not trust you to help me if the person who attacked me was a police officer. Why? Because your primary goal here has been to defend police officers, to convince us that they're not all bad, and that the good ones are powerless to change things.

(I'm a white woman. I don't carry a gun. I am very low on the perceived threat scale. So my perceptions are different here.)

Do you know what would increase my trust in you?

If you could say, "this looks bad" when a video of a police officer murdering someone is released.

If you could say, "the police have a problem with racialized violence" without burying it in caveats that make it not apply to you, or your agency.

If you could say, "Black lives matter" -- and not dismiss all of the their demands as wrong or unreasonable before you have even read them.

If you could show awareness of why many people are afraid of you, and if you could show sympathy and empathy, rather than your sense of how it's all so unfair.

And here is the important part: If you were out there, campaigning to change police culture for the better. If you stood in solidarity with people protesting police violence, instead of making excuses and standing aside.

As someone with the police, you might have an idea of some practical measures that make the situation better. Perhaps you know how effective de-escalation training could be implemented, for example. There are a lot of ways that police officers can change their culture in within, starting by standing with the victims of the violence, rather than the perpetrators. Starting with admitting there is a problem.

Yes, this sounds like a lot of difficult work. But in my view, by joining such a corrupt and violent institution, in order to be a good police officer you have to do more than just not directly participate in the violence; you have to challenge it from the inside. By standing aside, you are not a good police officer.

I can imagine that if you did this, you might very well face consequences from other officers, who would feel betrayed and angry. If you think that is true, then that tells you a lot about why people fear and hate cops.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:38 AM on July 7, 2016 [35 favorites]


Honestly, I expect that someone would be driven out of the police force if they stood up against police brutality. That is what has happened historically. The cops who talk about it are mostly ex- or retired. This is part of the problem I have with the police - that perfectly reasonable, moral and appropriate dissent from corrupt behavior is met by driving out the dissenters.
posted by Frowner at 6:43 AM on July 7, 2016 [19 favorites]


Late night thought, I also wonder if some of the backlash is due to BLM as an explicitly queer movement (by self-identification) and I see a lot of renewed noise regarding active queer erasure.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:07 AM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, I expect that a "good" police officer faces a lot of pressure to be silent. I also expect that a "good" police officer, someone who legitimately believes that it's their duty to protect people, would find being silent difficult to reconcile with their self-image. That explains the urge to find reasons not to speak up even when anonymous. (It isn't so bad, I really can't do anything.)

I might be asking police officers like firebrick to sacrifice their careers. That's asking a lot. Most people aren't brave enough to do that.

But I don't think it's asking too much. The situation is desperate and needs action from within. We need police officers to stop protecting themselves, and start protecting us. That's hard, but I think it's required, if you want to be a good police officer.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:07 AM on July 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Again I don't want to identify my agency, but African Americans are about 30% of my city's population and 75-80% of its shooting and murder victims, particularly young men.

Let me guess, your agency is mostly white. Somehow.
posted by odinsdream at 7:16 AM on July 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


Because I don't like seeing people hurt, I love my city, I like my partners and coworkers, and when someone needs me I want to be there for them. Lots of other reasons besides.

I mean this very, very sincerely, and I hope you listen: Choosing to be a cop as your career is not the way to help people. I beg you to choose a different career. If we met on the street, I would seriously, no joke, be fearing for my life, wondering if I'll ever see my children again that evening. Policing is irreparably broken. Choose a different career.
posted by odinsdream at 7:22 AM on July 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


...and oh god lest you do the "not all cops" again. One of my closest friends (at least before I moved several states away) was a cop a few years ago. He is the sweetest, most caring person I can think of in the world. Gentle. Beautiful. Loves his kids. And yet, he was literally involved in torturing homeless people with pepper spray along with his coworkers. Like, we had to have a moment of "oh my god you did ... what?" when he was recounting a story to us. In a moment of pure shock.

Policing in the US ruins lives and systematically destroys the humanity of those involved in it. It is an unmitigated, unchecked blight on humanity.
posted by odinsdream at 7:30 AM on July 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


How dare you stand next to me in the same uniform and murder somebody?

Ohio police officer Nakia Jones speaks out.
posted by rtha at 8:19 AM on July 7, 2016 [22 favorites]


Ohio police officer Nakia Jones speaks out.

firebrick: This is what you should do. This.
posted by odinsdream at 8:25 AM on July 7, 2016 [11 favorites]


does anyone have a transcript of the nakia jones video?
posted by nadawi at 8:27 AM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen one yet, nadawi - I'll keep looking.
posted by rtha at 8:38 AM on July 7, 2016


In the Toronto Star today, the head of the volunteer team for Pride Toronto has resigned in protest.

And just to clarify, since I couldn't be sure from the link text, she has resigned in solidarity with BLM's protest, and in protest of the way that Pride Toronto is backtracking on the commitments they made to BLM during the parade. Here's her statement about it on Facebook.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:38 AM on July 7, 2016 [11 favorites]


I appreciate the fact that the police have a useful, important function, especially if they're doing their jobs well and fairly. But I keep thinking about sexual abuse by priests, and how it was covered up and minimized because "good people" inside and outside the Church thought that admitting it or talking about it honestly would threaten the respect that people had for an important institution that does good.

But not talking about the abuse, not admitting it, didn't preserve respect for the institution. It just made things that much worse for the Church when the dam burst. That's what's happening with the police now; the dam is bursting. I have a hard time seeing how trying to convince us that, "We're the good old police that you were taught to admire and respect when you were a kid," helps right now.
posted by clawsoon at 8:43 AM on July 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


Honestly, I expect that someone would be driven out of the police force if they stood up against police brutality.

Driven out is often the least awful thing that would happen to them; it is a trivial matter to google up the legion of stories about the ways cops refuse backup to anyone who won't hold the blue line.

I attempted to quickly find a link about this issue above phenomenon by googling "police refused support" to find the legion of stories of fellow officers hung out to dry, but mostly I turned up cases of cops making a huge issue of any time they were inconvenienced by folks exercising their right to refuse service or saying Beyonce hurt their feelings so they wouldn't work security for her events. Using backup as a search term was more effective, turning up stories about how it happened in Chicago
The two alleged that when supervisors learned of their role in the undercover investigation, they called them "rats" and passed along that sensitive information to others in the Police Department. They were removed from their unit assignment and shuttled around the department to lesser jobs far from their homes and at bad hours, according to the lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial in May.

When they complained to supervisors about the alleged retaliation, one told them, "Look, everyone is against you, so you don't want to piss me off," they alleged.

In an interview Wednesday, Spalding said she often feared for her safety or that corrupt officers would plant drugs on her. She said she believed that supervisors set the tone for the harassment and said lower-ranking officers had little choice but to follow the directions laid out by their superiors or they would have faced retaliation themselves.
and Philadelphia
Ostracism against the trio escalated when they objected to a police sergeant referring to black officers as “critters” and “niggers.”

Police Department officials ignored complaints about this racist slur spewing sergeant from the trio, black officers and civil rights activists. Officials promoted this sergeant to his current rank of lieutenant.

The trio’s objections to misconduct violated the ‘Code of Silence’ among police – that unofficial creed that bars officers from revealing wrongdoing by fellow officers.

Cops in the 25th District put “graffiti on the walls of the bathroom” haranguing the trio as ‘snitches’ and ‘rats’ stated a federal appeals court ruling in this case.

Retaliation against the trio ranged from fellow white patrol officers refusing to provide backup to top Department officials sanctioning punishments against the trio.
and of course there's the classics, which are somehow still fresh.

All the search results are a mix of cops being upset at having a bad experience at a restaurant - and often getting the person who didn't want to serve them fired - or refusing to work a Beyonce concert or the NYC work slowdown, alongside stories about citizens being assaulted or killed.

Perhaps we need a variant on the saying. Police are worried that citizens won't show them respect, citizens are worried police will kill them.
posted by phearlez at 9:00 AM on July 7, 2016 [12 favorites]


does anyone have a transcript of the nakia jones video?

This is rough, but I think I have it all down:
"Nakia Jones, um, my son came home from work today and he showed me a disturbing, um, video. About a young man that was shot and killed by police in uh, Louisiana. And it's so funny because my son wanted to go to college there, and I kept saying Nah I ain't feelin' that or whatever. *Sigh* what's interesting to me is that the shooting involved a police officer and I watched the video over and over and over and over and over again so that I wouldn't become judgemental because not only am I a mother of two african american sons and I have african american nephews, and I have brothers, I am also a person that wears the uniform. With the blue. I'm also the one that gives their lives that puts their lives in danger. I wear blue. So I'm looking at it I'm looking at it and I became so furious. And so hurt. Because it bothers me when I hear people say ya'll police officers this ya'll police officers that. And they put us in this negative category when I'm sayin to myself, I'm not that type of police officer. I know officers that are like me that will give their life for other people. So I'm lookin at it and it tore me up cause I got to see...what you all see. If I wasn't a police officer and I wasn't on the inside I would be saying Look at this racist stuff look at this. And it hurt me. First of all, I became an officer in 1996. I grew up in the hood. So I ain't grew up in the suburbs. I grew up on 93rd and Kinston. We moved to east cleveland. So I know what it is. So the reason why I became a police officer was to make a difference in people's lives. I knew what it was like to have a parent on drugs. I knew what it was a like to watch people be picked on and bullied on and all kind of things. I said I want to make a difference. I want to be that change so I became that change. So in 96 I took an oath in east cleveland sitting in front of Chief Geitan {sp} that I would serve and protect my community by all costs even if it meant I wouldn't go home to my one year old daughter and that's what I did and I did it with integrity and respect {child says mamie in background} the thing that hurt me most of all was that a lot of people that I was arresting were the same color as me that grew up in east cleveland like me so I couldn't understand that. Why would you want to destroy your community? I couldn't understand and I say okay, but they're not sworn to serve and protect either. They're not, they didn't take that oath. This is what they do. So then I left there and I came to another predominantly black community and became a police officer. I'm the first and only african american female officer and I can say I got pride and respect, I sit in front of Marcia Fud {sp} that I would serve and protect my community and I also moved into my community and I raised my children in this community. I wore that blue uniform proudly. And I know for a fact I have five, six, beautiful children that love me. And I've hugged them. And i have a family that loves me and I know there's times I may not come home from work. I have taken guns off 15, 14, 13 year old children, now I'm talking about real guns. I've had to go and tell a mother that their 13 year old son or daughter was not coming home. I've interviewed rape victims that's been raped by people that look just like me, the same color as me. We are running around killing each other left and right. But what hurts me the most is the people that stood in front of the judge and stood in front of a mayor and said I swear my oath that I will serve and protect this community. And god please forgive me and you can delete me if you gettin mad at me. If you are white and you workin in a black community, and you are racist. You need to be ashamed of yourself. You stood up there and took an oath. If this is not where you wanna work at then you need to take your behind somewhere else. I decided to work in an african american community cause I'm african american and I wanted to make a difference. I coulda worked in Parma {sp} I coulda worked in Lakewood. I coulda worked in North Olmstead. I'm a double minority! They woulda got two hits for me, because I'm african american and I'm a female. I'm here because I wanted to make a difference. But how DARE you stand next to me in the same uniform and MURDER somebody. How DARE YOU! You oughta be ASHAMED of yourself. So why don't we just keep it real if you are that officer, then know good and well you gotta God complex. You're AFRAID of people that don't look like you! You have NO BUSINESS in that uniform {child yells in background}. TAKE IT OFF. If you're afraid to go and talk to an african american female or male or mexican male or female then cause they're not white like you, TAKE the uniform off. You have no BUSINESS being a police officer. Because there's many of us that will give our life for ANYBODY. And we TOOK THIS OATH and we MEANT IT. If you are that officer that's prejudiced, TAKE the uniform off and put the KKK hoodie on. Because I will not STAND for that. If you're an officer that works with me and you're wrong I will tell you you're wrong {child babbles in background}. My heart goes out to that young man's family because if it was my son I don't know what I'd do. But to my brothers and sisters. My juvenile brothers and sisters, I am your keeper. Put them guns down y'all, we killin' eachother and the reason why all this racist stuff keeps going on is because we're divided. We're killing each other. We're not standing together. See Martin Luther King never [sic] stood together you didn't hear a bunch about a bunch of black people killin' each other. We gotta stand together because a house divided against each other will not stand. And we gotta be smart. Don't mean go tearin' up stuff. Be smart. I am my brother and my sister's keeper. That's why I'm gonna keep this uniform on. Because today I wanted to quit when I saw that video. but I need for y'all to support the ones of us who are right. And I need for ya to stand for those of us that are never not right. I also need for ya'll to become role models for our juveniles yall they killin each other left and right I'm tellin you. And people that don't really want us to exist are sitting back laughing cause they're saying look at them destroy each other. Yea we'll have a police shooting here or there but we're not gon talk about the millions of black black and black men that are killing each other left and right. Put the guns down. The most powerful fearful *unintelligible* person in the world is an intelligent black man. Y. .men, I need for yall to stand up. Get these young men. Mentor them. Teach them. And then when you see that one of us are doing something wrong and I'm not talk.. you know when you wrong and you know when you done with the police and we gotta do our job cause we have to do our job. But when we do something that you know is wrong, you need to speak up. You need to go speak to a chief. You need to go sit down and talk to the mayor. I'm not talkin' about just because I don't want you to tell me what to do I'm talking about something serious yall. Again, this is my thoughts, if you get upset, delete the, this is my facebook page. God bless."
posted by odinsdream at 9:04 AM on July 7, 2016 [25 favorites]


...worth mentioning her video appears to be made before she knew about the Minneapolis shooting.
posted by odinsdream at 9:09 AM on July 7, 2016


thank you for transcribing it. so fuckin powerful. i hope she stays safe.

i keep thinking back to earlier in the thread when a couple people insisted that a peaceful protest was violent, and contrasting that against the actual violence visited upon black bodies, and i just despair.
posted by nadawi at 9:17 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]




The SFPD has a group of black officers called Officers for Justice, led by Sgt. Yulanda Williams, which has its roots in a landmark civil rights lawsuit in 1973 against the city for its failure to maintain a diverse police force. Their primary focus is recruiting and mentoring people of color to become officers, but Williams has led them on a more activist bent since she became the group's President. Williams has spoken out against racist incidents in the Department amid a racist texting scandal and said she feared for her safety as a result. She is the only active officer who testified before the blue ribbon panel of retired judges created to investigate racism in the SFPD and she specifically went after the police union, saying:
"They just don’t get it. They’re constantly antagonizing disenfranchised communities. … With the stance that the San Francisco Police Officers Association has taken, they have shown that they have very much disregard for the black officers in particular and they have shown disregard for minority communities."

More about Officers for Justice and Williams, including a detail that she wore a Black Lives Matter pin to the interview.
posted by zachlipton at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think everyone should read the links that Kitteh and Jacquilynne posted about the resignation of the head of the volunteer team for Pride TO before making any more comments about what happened at the parade over the weekend.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:56 AM on July 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


And now no one has made any more comments. Sorry for killing this thread.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:25 PM on July 7, 2016


Any, I think a lot of the conversation went over here: http://www.metafilter.com/160804/When-Black-Lives-Stop-Mattering
posted by spinifex23 at 12:44 PM on July 7, 2016


[A few comments deleted. Yesterday, we covered pretty exhaustively the point over how much responsibility BLM bears, vs the police and parade organizers, for the crowding situation in another part of the parade. Really let's not re-litigate that point now.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:58 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Conspire: Yet, BLM subverts this strategy. They do this by inverting the status quo, and putting the needs of the most marginalized members of the community at the forefront. Look at their list of demands. Queer black people are on it. Trans black people on it. Hell, even Deaf black people are on it - do you know how fucking rare it is for a movement to give voice to Deaf people? They even extend their demands to other PoC - they advocate for the needs of South Asians on their list too.
So long as we're focused on intersectionality as it relates to abelism, this protest will have me rethinking my own attendance at Pride whenever I'm in North America.

I can't always stand for extended periods, and the idea of being trapped in by a bottled crowd as was described by the mefites who were there at Pride Toronto terrifies me. I can relate to the people who suffered as a result of the disruption and the lack-of-planning/lack-of-warning for it, and now anytime I want to attend Pride I know I'll need to weigh the risk of more disruptions and my faith in the ability of the organizers to adequately handle it. This protest and the risk of more like it have made Pride less accessible to me in a tangible way that is entirely different from ideological opposition to bringing cops on board the movement.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:03 PM on July 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


But at the same time, this was always the case but no one ever thought of it. Now that it is clear that a 30 minute delay can cause significant risks the organizers will have to take this into consideration when doing their planning for future parades. Plus, the bottling was with respect to parade participants at staging areas and not people in the crowd so unless you were marching you wouldn't have to worry about being bottled in.

I didn't go to the Pride TO parade this year but I went last year with two small children and it was fine. Its crowded if you want a good place to see the parade but the sidewalks were clear enough that we could get around with a stroller and look over the tops of heads. Pretty much the same as with any other event here.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:29 PM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


> and now anytime I want to attend Pride I know I'll need to weigh the risk of more disruptions and my faith in the ability of the organizers to adequately handle it.

This is always a possibility in literally any large parade or gathering. There should be no "now" to this. This kind of shit happens when there are no protesters protesting anything.
posted by rtha at 2:35 PM on July 7, 2016 [12 favorites]


Thank you, but I don't need my safety at Pride to be ablesplained to me.

I have attended Pride since I was an infant every year that I've been alive, and have never been in a situation where I was unsafe or felt unsafe thanks to the largely invisible work of organizers. However, this changes the equation for me, I now have one more factor to consider when figuring whether I can participate fully in my community and sure as hell won't fell comfortable going alone.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:04 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


You don't know anything about my current or former (dis)ability status so please watch it with the assumptions.
posted by rtha at 3:13 PM on July 7, 2016 [17 favorites]


So long as we're focused on intersectionality as it relates to abelism, this protest will have me rethinking my own attendance at Pride whenever I'm in North America.

I can't always stand for extended periods, and the idea of being trapped in by a bottled crowd as was described by the mefites who were there at Pride Toronto terrifies me. I can relate to the people who suffered as a result of the disruption and the lack-of-planning/lack-of-warning for it, and now anytime I want to attend Pride I know I'll need to weigh the risk of more disruptions and my faith in the ability of the organizers to adequately handle it. This protest and the risk of more like it have made Pride less accessible to me in a tangible way that is entirely different from ideological opposition to bringing cops on board the movement.


This year, Pride Toronto made the decision to move the Accessibility Hub to a backwater location without consulting the (volunteer) team that runs it.

In previous years it was prominently and centrally located.

For anyone not familiar with Toronto Pride, the "hub" is the main location that people can go to for information/assistance on getting to the accessible viewing stations along the parade route (raised, shaded viewing platforms), or the described viewing area (with live audio description of the Sunday parade), borrowing wheelchairs and walkers, rest in a shaded area with water and accessible washrooms, or ask for information using UbiDuo terminals.

But accessibility is a problem at Toronto Pride because the organization relies on that small team of dedicated but worked-to-the-bone volunteers to deliver and manage accessibility on Pride weekend. That volunteer team in turn is reliant on a roster of volunteers they're given for the weekend. And only some of those show up.

The only problematic thing with BLM's demands around ASL interpretation is not the demands themselves. Securing ASL interpretation is dependent on the pool of available interpreters who can be hired at the time - but it's also dependent on making sure that accessibility is a committment Pride Toronto is willing to put paid staff in place to fully support so better planning and logistical support can go into that.

So, since the corporate presence in the parade is very heavy, creative ways to fund better accessibility at Toronto Pride could include a higher fee for any businesses registering a contingent in the parade. Keep the entry fee what it is for non-profit and community groups, but earmark the extra money charged to businesses for accessibility.

Right now, registering for a contingent in the parade is the exact same price whether you're Pfizer or Casey House. Change that.

Hire full-time paid staff out of those funds to help deliver better accessibility. That is not something Pride Toronto and its paid staff have been willing to stand up and do. But they could...
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:42 PM on July 7, 2016 [12 favorites]


Thinking about the police culture of retaliation for anyone speaking up against misconduct, it strikes me that this is exactly the sort of thing that a union would be useful for, if police unions weren't generally awful reactionary organizations that are probably organizing that kind of retaliation in the first place.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:51 PM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb, the reason the parade got dangerous for some people due to the stoppage wasn't because of the BLM protestors. It was because the parade was so badly managed that any stoppage caused danger. Literally anything, including a malfunctioning parade vehicle or unrelated police activity or a medical emergency that required the parade to halt while emergency services were rendered, would have caused the same problem.
This vulnerability was exposed by BLM, but it is not BLM's fault and avoiding it is not BLM's responsibility.
posted by KathrynT at 4:33 PM on July 7, 2016 [25 favorites]


Jesse Wente:

Years ago — probably 20 — I was part of the police chief’s youth advisory council in Toronto. It was a diverse group of engaged young people — I wish I had kept in touch with any of them, but I’m terrible at that — who met monthly with the Chief — it was David Boothby at the time — to discuss how the force could better its relations with youth and especially diverse youth.

We discussed hiring practices, community outreach and some issues around enforcement. One day we went to the marine unit for a tour and a boat ride — a nice photo op for the chief — I have the picture somewhere but never look at it and never will. It was there that he asked me how the police could better serve Indigenous people. He wanted to hire more Indigenous officers and was pushing the idea of the salary and benefits as being the major attraction for this. So he asked me what I thought.

I told him a good job with benefits is important, but that until real trust has been built it wouldn’t matter. I told him that Indigenous people fear the police because of many instances of abuse and the feeling that it was an institution designed to oppress Indigenous people. He told me that wasn’t true. I told him their actions say something different. And that was that.

It was only a few weeks later, walking with my then girlfriend (and future and present wife) late at night on Adelaide outside her apartment that the cruiser pulled up beside us. They shone the spotlight on me and ordered me to face the wall. They kept the spotlight on me as they asked my wife if she was OK. I was dressed in a hoodie and had my traditional hair down my back. They asked her a few more questions — did she know me? Where were we going? Before they finally left.

She’s never forgotten that night and what it felt like. She had never experienced anything like that in her life. I told her then as I do now, that it wasn’t the first time... and it wasn’t the last. She still distrusts police to this day because of that one night.

When I hear sirens and I’m walking at night, I know there’s a chance they are coming for me again.

It mostly stopped after I cut my hair off but I have never lost that instinct or fear — when I hear sirens and I’m walking at night, I know there’s a chance they are coming for me again. And that it could end differently this time.

And I got off exceedingly luckily. If she hadn’t been there, what could have happened? If there wasn’t a white witness what would have happened?

This was in Toronto, the great multicultural mecca of Canada. And I’m sure it will happen to someone else tonight. I worry that it will one day happen to my son — who like me is going to be a very large Ojibwe man — and that he won’t get off easy like I did.

So when people say that what Black Lives Matter Toronto did at Pride was wrong or “extortion”, I remember this night and the many other encounters I’ve had with police just because I’m a large Ojibwe and once had my traditional hair, and I wish I had been there to sit with them, as I stand with them now.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:06 PM on July 7, 2016 [29 favorites]


Open Letter to the Vancouver Pride Society and the Vancouver Police Department from Black Lives Matter Vancouver

The whole thing is fantastic. An excerpt:
At our vigil on Sunday we successfully negotiated a basic police presence from the Vancouver Police Department. We acknowledge that in certain contexts police presence to perform a job of civil service may deter acts of homophobia and violence, especially at designated queer events such as Pride. However, we cannot divorce the policing institution from its historical and continued violence against Indigenous and PoC communities, racial profiling, or inaction around our missing Indigenous women. We stand with BLM-Toronto and many other BLM chapters in their discontent with police being involved in the parade itself.

BLM-Vancouver had not directly heard from the Vancouver Pride Society before the statement was released publicly online despite the Society’s stated intentions of inclusion and a desire to reach out to us.

We will not be taking part in the Pride parade, by participation or protest, and have instead chosen to focus our energy elsewhere. The Dyke March responded positively to the recent events in Toronto and, with compassion and dignity, have invited BLM-Vancouver to lead as Grand Marshall this year as part of their contribution to Pride. We have responded to that positive message of solidarity and humanity and are pleased to be involved with several other QTBIPoC-centred events as well. We do this not only because we feel that Pride no longer represents community action, resistance and revolution but also as an act of solidarity with BLM chapters across North America to whom Pride parades have been made inaccessible. We wholeheartedly support the actions of other BLM chapters such as BLM Toronto and BLM San Francisco and although we may not face the same immediate threats of police brutality, we refuse to participate in the whitewashing, armament and exclusivity of any Pride Parade unless concrete and explicit commitments to the contrary are made.
(emphasis in the original)
posted by rtha at 11:02 AM on July 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


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