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Vancouver Pride bars officers, seeks police defunding in advance of annual event

All police and corrections officers are barred from this year's event
large rainbow flag is carried by people marching in the Vancouver Pride Parade, in Vancouver, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — Organizers of Vancouver's Pride Parade say all police and corrections officers are barred from this year's event as the organization stands with Black communities demanding accountability from law enforcement.

A statement issued by the Vancouver Pride Society says the roots of Pride stem from "righteous anger, riot and uprising against police brutality."

It says despite attempts at reform, brutality continues against people of colour, as well as transgendered people, sex workers, the disabled and homeless. 

The society says police and corrections officers are not welcome at any Pride celebrations, stepping up restrictions imposed in 2017 that banned uniformed officers from the parade.

It says it also supports the movement to defund police, saying police reform has not worked and it's time to invest in "alternative ways" to manage public safety.

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Elenore Sturko in Surrey, B.C., responded on social media to the society's announcement saying that as an LGBT police officer she is disheartened by the decision.

"When we wear our uniforms and participate in Pride events, we do so not only to stand within our community, but to stand up to discrimination within our own institutions," Sturko said in a Twitter post.

Vancouver's Pride festival is marking its 42nd year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the society has revised week-long events and its parade, which routinely attracts more than 500,000 people.

It is now planning online celebrations beginning July 27 and culminating with what organizers describe as a Virtual Pride Parade Livestream on Aug 2.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2020