New policy for Brantford Pride upsets police association and mayor
Jennifer Wagner, CTV Kitchener
Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017 9:37PM EDT
Just one day after Brantford Pride celebrations kicked off, the event is embroiled in controversy.
After months of debate, Brantford Pride organizers announced that formal police participation in Pride events would no longer be permitted.
Organizers say it's a policy meant to make LGBTQ community members of colour feel more included. They say the policy is not meant to ban police from events, but rather the uniform they wear.
Committee member Jay Rideout says police are still welcome at the events.
“Pride isn’t for police uniforms. Those are things that can be left at home. That’s not to say that we don’t want police there, we want everybody who’s a part of the queer community, everybody who’s a part of the trans community and allies to come out and to support… that’s the point of Pride. We just don’t want the uniform.”
The committee hopes it will make some members of the LGBTQ community feel safer.
“For lots of community members the police uniform is something that is scary for them,” said committee member Christine Wildman.
However the policy has upset both the city's police association and its mayor.
Mark Baxter, President of the Brantford Police Association said many members are not happy with the new policy.
"To hear that they wanted to exclude us was concerning… We've had a good relationship and we believe we continue to have a good relationship with Brantford Pride and we want to work through their concerns."
Brantford mayor Chris Friel does not agree with the new policy.
"I watched and felt the joy that was expressed at the first flag raising when the police appeared in uniform. It was a powerful statement and a giant leap forward for the Pride movement in Branford. The decision to exclude police in uniform is a large step back."
He chose not to attend this week's Pride flag raising at city hall.
Brantford Police Services say they will honour the request and uniformed members will only participate in Pride events when working as security and crowd control.
With reporting by Tyler Calver.