A group of veteran Vancouver LGBT activists and community pioneers have launched a petition to counter Black Lives Matter Vancouver’s request to have the police removed from the Pride parade. These activists are concerned that the voices of older generations who helped found the communities and worked hard to develop relationships with the police are being ignored, in addition to others.
The organizers of the petition are Velvet Steele, a Vancouver trans and sex worker rights advocate who was a member of the Trans/Police Liaison committee in the early 1990s; Gordon Hardy, a co-founder of the Vancouver Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s; Sandra Leo-Laframboise, a trans queer activist and Métis Two Spirit elder; and Kevin Dale McKeown, Vancouver’s first out gay journalist and an LGBT columnist for the Georgia Straight in 1970s
The petition states:
Vancouver’s LGBTQ community has a long history of positive engagement with the Vancouver Police Department, from the first Gay and Lesbian/Police Liaison Committee in 1977, through the 1980s with the work of community leaders like Jim Deva, Jim Trenholme, and Malcolm Crane, and continuing today as the LGBT/Police Liaison Committee. We’ve been doing this work for 40 years now.”
“While the objections that Black Lives Matter Vancouver makes against the presence of the Vancouver Police Department in the Vancouver Pride Parade reflect historic and ongoing injustices against the black communities in major American and Eastern Canadian cities, they do not reflect the relationships between Vancouver’s LGBTQ communities with local law enforcement.”
The petition organizers also note that the VPD and RCMP have participated in the parade since 2002, which “signifies the progress we have made in our struggle for LGBTQ equality”.
The counter-petition is a reaction to BLM Vancouver’s petition launched on February 7 to request, for a second time, that the Vancouver Pride Society have the VPD withdraw all of its uniformed, armed officers from the parade.
The counter-petition is available for all to sign on the change.org website. The petition will be delivered to the VPS.
The petition will close on February 20, the day before the Vancouver Pride is scheduled to meet with BLM Vancouver members on February 21. This year’s Vancouver Pride parade will be held on August 6.