Just a short comment from your publisher on Vancouver’s next Pride Parade.
For those readers not aware of the issue: Organizers of the Vancouver Pride Parade have decided that police officers in uniform will not be welcome among the throngs marching in the next event. Why? Because visible police presence, these organizers say, might make some participants feel “uncomfortable.”
One assumes these same folks would feel equally uncomfortable if the VPD decided not to protect and defend marchers against unruly spectators with unpleasant intentions – from the sidelines, that is. But that is a relatively minor inconsistency.
What is more important is the message a visible law enforcement presence in the parade would send.
That message would be: “We support you and will defend you against those who would wish you harm.” It was not always so.
A generation or two ago, members of what was then called the gay community (sans acronym) had to live a life of discretion and fear. I know; I had many friends in that community, which was largely confined to a ghetto in the West End. Support from the cops was something nobody could count on. Hostility was everywhere, some of it coming from old-line cops with conventional prejudices.
We have come a long way since then.
Attitudes have changed – both in law enforcement and in the greater community. Maybe not as much as some might like, but it’s better than before.
Visible police participation would be an effective way to illustrate that social shift, but organizers of the Pride Parade have chosen to forego that rare opportunity.
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