TORONTO, June 25, 2017 /CNW/ - Black Lives Matter - Toronto activists marched in the Toronto Pride Parade today despite widespread reports that they would not attend. The group staged a somber artistic demonstration mourning the deaths of Philando Castile, Andrew Loku, Amleset Haile, Sumaya Dalmar and other Black Lives lost to police violence and systemic white supremacy. The action offered a series of reminders, drawing on the concept of Sankofa - learning from our past - highlighting incidents of anti-Blackness within the broader LGBTTI2QQA communities in Toronto.
Black Lives Matter - Toronto also declared that the 2017 Pride festival was more inclusive and accessible because of the actions they took last year demanding increased support for disabled, Mad and Deaf community members and artists, increased funding and support for black queer youth and Blockorama/Blackness Yes and the removal of uniformed police officers in Pride.
"We are here at Pride 2017 to remind the community, that we are still standing up for them," said Rodney Diverlus of Black Lives Matter - Toronto. "We are reminding the Pride attendees that just last week, we were witness to the violence of police anti-Blackness at the inquest into Andrew Loku's death. We are reminding Pride not to celebrate our queerness with unapologetically anti-Black police forces."
This has been a tumultuous year that witnessed ongoing anti-Blackness at the hands of Toronto Police Services and a marked increase in violence towards racialized queer and trans people. "We want to remind Pride attendees that Black folks have always been an integral part of Toronto's queer and trans communities and our actions and our demands have been part of this legacy. They are for all of us and have made Pride 2017 more inclusive for everybody." said Syrus Marcus Ware of Black Lives Matter - Toronto.
The collective demands, created in 2016, all approved by Pride Toronto, were as follows:
- Continued space, including stage and tents, funding and logistical support for Black Queer Youth.
- Self-determination for all community spaces at Pride, allowing community groups full control over hiring, content and structure of their stages.
- Full and adequate funding for community stages, including logistical, technical and personnel support.
- Doubling of funding for Blockorama to $13,000.
- Reinstatement of the South Asian stage.
- Prioritizing of the hiring of Black trans women, Indigenous people and others from vulnerable communities at Pride Toronto.
- More Black deaf and hearing sign language interpreters for the festival.
- Removal of police floats in the Pride marches and parades.
- A town hall organized in conjunction with groups from marginalized communities, including but not limited to Black Lives Matter - Toronto, Blackness Yes and Black Queer Youth, in six months, where Pride Toronto will present an update and action plan on BLM-TO's demands.
"Today is a reminder to the queer and trans community, and to the whole of Toronto, that we are still here, and that we are proudly Black, queer, and trans," said Ravyn Wngz of Black Lives Matter - Toronto. "When you look at what we have accomplished through our action last year, it's clear that Pride is better for everyone."
Black Lives Matter - Toronto is the Toronto chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, an international organization and movement fighting anti-Black racism all over the world.
SOURCE Black Lives Matter - Toronto