Organizers of Sunday’s police-free Black Lives Matter-organized march in Vancouver say they plan on making it an annual event.
The Vancouver chapter of Black Lives Matter held “The March on Pride” Sunday afternoon. The event was the group’s response to the Vancouver Pride Society’s decision to continue to allow Vancouver police to take part in the annual Pride Parade, and to take Pride back to its political roots as a march against oppression.
“The march was fantastic, it was everything we hoped it would be,” the group said in an email. “We’re both exhausted and experiencing the high of pulling off something amazing.”
Organizers estimate about 1,000 people took part in the march, which made its way up Davie Street from Emery Barnes Park to Alexandra Park.
The group said it hopes to make The March on Pride an annual event.
“It’s important to remember that Pride is political and [honour] its roots in fighting oppression. We’ve also had quite a few people of [colour] express gratitude for finally having a Pride event that they feel safe to attend, which further emphasises the need for spaces like this.”
Black Lives Matter Vancouver is unhappy with the decision to allow police officers to continue to take part in the annual Pride Parade on the August long weekend. The group first brought its concerns to the Vancouver Pride Society last year and successfully lobbied to have an armoured police vehicle removed from the event. Earlier this year, BLMV presented the society with a petition asking that the police department voluntarily withdraw from the parade. The Vancouver Pride Society earlier this year announced that police officers would march in the parade as part of a civic float, and the majority would not be in uniform.
However, BLMV would like to see the department removed from the parade entirely and called the changes merely “performative tweaks.”
“Black Lives Matter is a group of really passionate activists and advocates in the community,” said Vancouver Pride Society co-chair Charmaine De Silva. “I think it’s important that groups continue to do that work.”
De Silva said the department’s involvement in the parade could continue to change in the coming years.
“Some people would like to see change in an instant,” she said, adding that the community continues to work with police.
“We were trying to achieve that balance,” she said. “We know that Black Lives Matter is not happy with that outcome this year.”