A small change but a big victory for Black Lives Matter Vancouver

July 25th. Unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

As Pride Week gets underway in Vancouver, Black Lives Matter – Vancouver, BC and the Vancouver Pride Society have met and plan to continue dialogue aimed at making sure People of Colour and other groups that experience marginalization feel welcome at Pride.

We acknowledge that allyship and inclusion are ongoing processes but we would like to announce an important development. Following Black Lives Matter Vancouver’s campaigning efforts, and with support from the Vancouver Pride Society, we understand the Vancouver Police Department has agreed their Armoured Response Vehicle will not be appearing in the Vancouver Pride Parade.

– The Vancouver Pride Society

To us, this is a victory. If small and partial, it is nevertheless a huge indication that our work and advocacy around inclusion in the pride parade and in queer communities in general, is paying off. The removal of the Armoured Response Vehicle from the Vancouver Pride Society’s parade, while a small act, is symbolic to Black Lives Matter and especially to Black queer people.

Our work is to stay true to the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement and to be Black Lives Matter is to work against police brutality and police militarization wherever we are. While the Vancouver Police Department themselves have been civil towards us since our inception, the vehicle itself represents the ongoing violence and threat posed by institutional racism towards marginalized groups. Therefore, to remove it represents a small step towards accepting and respecting Black Lives Matter as a movement and working towards inclusion of all queer and trans people, not just those with privilege.

A member of the Vancouver Police Department expressed to us that they feel scared to be in their uniforms after the shooting of Dallas police officers. If they feel the visceral impact of an event that took place 3,000 miles away, surely they can sympathize with the fact that Black communities feel fear every day, as we watch story after story of our Black community being murdered, often by police. The geography is not important, rather the idea that our society is structured so that Black people fear police. To undo this narrative and to create meaningful solidarity between police and Black Lives Matter means to honour these feelings and work towards helping marginalized communities feel safe and respected.

Many have said that the Vancouver Police Department has participated in the pride parade for nearly 20 years. Police also participated in violent raids of LGBTQ safe spaces for years before the Stonewall riots of 1969 and subsequent pride marches. Just because something has historically been done, this does not mean it should go without question.

This was never Black Lives Matter versus the Vancouver Pride Society. This was always Black Lives Matter, Black queer and trans folks, and other communities of colour asking to be accepted into a community in which we rightfully belong.

Love cannot win until Black lives matter.

 

 


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