An overwhelming grassroots vote against the police participation in Pride Toronto a couple years ago has now evolved into a near split vote.
Grassroots Pride Toronto members participated in a community vote tonight, both online and in person at a special meeting at Ryerson, and the result was 163 to 161 against police in uniform returning to Toronto Pride anytime soon. There were claims that a last minute influx of members might tip the balance in favour of the cops. But that didn't make the difference as supporters of the police ban still won the day.
If this community is this divided on the issue, it's clear that the status quo keeping the police out needs to remain for now. There's no grassroots push to bring the cops back.
I've struggled to decide how I feel about this issue. On the one hand, I see a ban as hopelessly divisive and somewhat counter-productive. On the other hand, letting police in would send a terrible message that we don't care that much about the near failure by the police as an organization to atone for their immense failures and injustices against the LGBTQ community (and other communities).
We do care deeply. Those opposed to the police returning to a community festival that originated as a political protest against oppression (still perpetuated on a regular basis by the police and their allies) have made impassioned arguments that I find impossible to refute.
So this vote will stand for the foreseeable future. Let's continue to debate and engage in our local community. I wrote late last year that Pride Toronto seemed a mess as an organization. Perhaps this grassroots vote will again revive its progressive legacy.
Let's get on with it.