Black Lives Matter Toronto Not Interested In Mayor's 'Interventions'

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TORONTO — An activist group fighting for more rights for racialized communities says the way organizers of Canada's largest Pride parade deal with blackness and black LGBTQ youth is "abysmal.''

Black Lives Matter Toronto says organizers, particularly Pride Toronto's executive director Mathieu Chantelois, need to be held accountable for their actions.

The group, a Canadian chapter of the larger U.S. movement, temporarily halted Toronto's Pride parade Sunday to issue a series of demands that included more funding and better representation for racialized communities during Pride events.

It also called for a ban on police floats in future parades, though stressed that individual officers identifying as LGBTQ would be welcome.

black lives matter toronto
Black Lives Matter Toronto protests during the city's Pride parade Sunday. (Photo: CP)

The parade resumed about half an hour later when Chantelois signed the list of demands but later told the media that he only did it so he could get the event moving again.

Black Lives Matter Toronto cofounder Rodney Diverlus said the group is disappointed at the lack of action from Pride organizers.

"We as a community know this is historically accurate of Pride,'' Diverlus said. "There are commitments given to the black LGBT community, and those commitments are quickly recanted.''

The protest was the latest in a series of actions taken by the group that has frequently accused Toronto police of racial profiling and violence against the black community.

"There are commitments given to the black LGBT community, and those commitments are quickly recanted.'

Members of Black Lives Matter Toronto also criticized Mayor John Tory's response to the group's Pride parade sit-in at a media briefing Thursday, saying Tory should "stay in his lane.''

In a letter to Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack on Tuesday, Tory said he supports the police presence at Pride.

Diverlus addressed the letter directly and said the mayor's "interventions'' don't have a place in the discussion.

"I want to make it very clear to Mayor Tory that we are not interested in politicking back and forth with him,'' Diverlus said.

black lives matter toronto pride protest
Members of Black Lives Matter sit and block the Pride Parade from the normal parade route. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The group reread their list of demands Thursday, which includes a call for Pride Toronto to increase representation of black queer people and "others from vulnerable communities'' in hiring and a public townhall with groups from marginalized communities in six months.

They stressed that the demands come from consultations with communities of people who are both black and LGBTQ. Janaya Khan, another Black Lives Matter Toronto cofounder, said changes to Pride celebrations are essential to making them more inclusive.

"Will it take 20 years or 10 years or 15 years before we recognize that we are an integral part of (Pride)? We founded this movement to represent some of the most marginalized communities, and we will continue to do that,'' Khan said.

The activist group announced it would be organizing a community meeting with the black LGBTQ community in the coming weeks.

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