Jan. 17, 2022 – For Immediate Release
At the June 15, 2021 Board Meeting, Pride Toronto discussed moving forward with one hour training sessions with new Toronto police recruits as part of their police training. A question was raised within the meeting (see minutes below) about whether this commitment violates the decision of Pride Membership to keep the police out of Pride activities. The discussion and decision was that providing a one-hour presentation to new Toronto Police Services (TPS) recruits does not violate the wishes of the membership as expressed in membership votes in 2017 and 2019 (See timeline below). Training sessions with the police are somehow a strategy of ‘harm reduction’ and moving towards ‘community safety,’ according to Pride Toronto Board members. Further to this Pride Toronto has set a 2022 ‘harm reduction’ goal to “work with Toronto Police Services to provide harm reduction intervention on the festival footprint during operating hours” and will meet with TPS to review this (see https://www.pridetoronto.com/pride-toronto/mission/harm-reduction/). This clearly violates Pride members decisions to bar police from operating within the pride festival space.
The No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC) opposes this because organizing training/information sessions for the police and working with them on ‘harm reduction’ only provides legitimacy and support to the TPS, and policing more generally as a racist and violent social institution. When the police are a threat to Black, Indigenous and racialized people, to unhoused people, to sex workers and others (many of whom are queer and trans) training for them is harmful and makes our communities less safe. When the police cause harm by criminalizing and brutalizing people they are the cause of harm and cannot be harm reduction.
NPPC was formed in 2018 to oppose police participation in Pride. We are shocked and disappointed that Pride Toronto has supported this request by TPS to be part of police training and the decision to work with police on ‘harm reduction.’ We oppose these moves in the strongest possible terms and see it as a violation of the decisions by the Pride membership which opposed collaboration and liaison with the police. Pride Toronto was founded as a challenge to criminalization and police violence, growing out of the resistance to the massive bath raids in February and June 1981.
The NPPC was founded to support Black Lives Matter-Toronto’s list of demands emerging from their stopping of the Pride Parade in 2016. These demands included removing police floats/booths from Pride marches/parades/community spaces. In the context of the 2020 global uprising against police violence and anti-Black racism the No Pride in Policing Coalition developed its own statement to defund, disarm, demilitarize and abolish police and all policing institutions, https://www.noprideinpolicing.ca/nppc/june-2020-statement/
The Pride Toronto board discussed doing training for TPS at the very same time as the Toronto police were involved in arrests of Black activists in the city, in violent clearings of encampment residents and their supporters that were beginning to take place (that included targeting queer and trans unhoused people), and as Indigenous people across ‘Canada’ faced violence from various police forces. It was also the same time that police forces in Ontario were being given added funds from the provincial government for extending their surveillance and policing into and through social services and social agencies (See NPPC discussion paper on this at: https://www.noprideinpolicing.ca/nppc/jan-2022-discussion-paper/ ).
Earlier in 2021 Pride Toronto had given a presentation to the Toronto budget meeting supporting a 50% reduction in the TPS budget and Pride Toronto signed onto the “Choosing Real Safety, A Historic Declaration to Divest From Policing and Prisons and Build Safer Communities for All” which calls for defunding, and dismantling the police and building alternatives to policing and prisons https://www.choosingrealsafety.com/declaration
NPPC calls for Pride Toronto to immediately end all training sessions for TPS and end collaboration with them on ‘harm reduction’ and to reaffirm the position of no police within Pride and no liaison and collaboration with the police on these matters.
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Background Information for the statement:
Excerpt from minutes of meeting:
June 15, 2021 Pride Toronto Board Meeting
Toronto Police Service – New recruits will go through a one hour session with us as part of their training.
● Christin: we should be covering more topics (like speaking about the community) other than Festival, experiences that the community has had with police.
● Grant: community safety should be prioritized.
● Sherwin: harm reduction approach (rather than over policing)
● Action item: huddle to plan what exactly will be provided in the 1 hour presentation to the recruits.
● Does this violate our Membership?
● We are not training, we are not bringing police back to the parade; this is more of an information session.
● Harm reduction: we are having harm reduction workers on the Festival Footprint (so won’t need as many police)
● If aim is to reduce police harm and police presence, then we need to be very clear with our stakeholders.
● Action Item: Sherwin/Nipuni to invite Board Members for feedback.
June 2016 Black Lives Matter - Toronto stops the Pride
The No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC) is an antiracist queer and trans group formed to support Black Lives Matter – Toronto and is focused on defunding and abolishing the police. We initiated the Pride Day 2020 Defund and Abolish All Police rally and teach-in of close to 3,000 people held at Nathan Philips Square, June 28, 2020 and the 600 person rally for defunding and abolishing the Toronto police held outside Toronto Police HQ on July 16, 2020.
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