Members of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Toronto staged a sit-in at the Pride Toronto parade on Sunday, bringing it to a halt for about half an hour.
Alexandra Williams, a co-founder of BLM Toronto, said that they held the sit-in because they wanted to hold Pride Toronto accountable for “anti-blackness.”
“We are not taking any space away from any folks. When we talk about homophobia, transphobia, we go through that too … It should be a cohesive unit, not one against the other. Anti-blackness needs to be addressed and they can be addressed at the same time, in the same spaces,” Williams said.
The parade didn’t re-start until after Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a document agreeing to the group’s demands.
One of the demands was that there will not be any police floats at next year’s parade.
But on Monday Chantelois told Toronto television news station CP24 that he did not agree to remove the police floats but he committed to having a conversation about the issues BLM Toronto presented in its document.
The list of demands from BLM Toronto also included a commitment to increase representation among Pride Toronto staff, and to prioritize the hiring of black transgender women and indigenous people.
Chantelois said the document of demands was unexpected.
He explained that the priority was ” to make the parade move.We had a million people waiting, including people from marginalized communities. The show and the parade had to go on.”
In a news release, BLM Toronto said Pride Toronto “has shown little honour to black queer/trans communities, and other marginalized communities. Over the years, Pride has threatened the existence of black spaces at Pride that have existed for years.”
BLM Toronto was given the status of Honoured Group for the parade.It did not give Pride Toronto advance notice of its planned sit-in.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said the Pride parade had been “hijacked” by BLM Toronto.
He warned that a lack of police participation in Pride Toronto could have serious negative consequences for the relationship between the police and the community.
Pride Toronto said it welcomes the opportunity to “continue the conversation” with BLM Toronto.