Women displaying an anti-police poster on their Pride Day float claim they were harassed by cops just before the parade.
“While our float was waiting to start marching, we were approached by two uniformed police officers who requested we remove from the float a board which mentioned police racism,” reads a press statement from the lesbian collective.
The poster was up on one side of the Queer Women Colouring The Century float.
It reproduced a controversial, pre-provincial election ad displayed in May in the Yonge and Bloor subway station and paid for by the Toronto Police Association (essentially a union which represents rank and file cops).
Five male latino youth gang members are pictured. The text asks voters to “help fight crime by electing candidates who are prepared to take on the drug pushers, the pimps and rapists….”
Dykes had painted around the ad the phrases “Stop police racism” and “End the criminalization of people of colour.”
“We refused to remove to remove the board,” states the communiqué, “and then we were asked to add the word ‘union’ to indicate ‘police union,’ since it had been the Toronto police association that had paid for the ad. The police officers left and we decided not to change the board.”
About 10 minutes later, the 10-member collective states, two officers came by to make the same request. The women claim they were warned they might not be able to rent their truck from the same company next year.
“The police continued to pressure us by telling us that the Pride parade was not a political parade. We remained firm in our refusal. Eventually the police left and we marched in the parade without further incident.”
There are no names anywhere on the Colouring The Century press release, and the women don’t want to be identified because they are “afraid” of repercussions, says one.
They are also refusing interviews.
They do not have the badge numbers or names of the officers who allegedly hassled them.
The latino poster has become an issue for the Toronto Police Services Board and has been soundly criticized elsewhere.
During the Dyke March, on Jun 26, a member of the new Latin American Coalition Against Racism asked for signatures on a letter addressed to Ontario Human Rights Commission head Keith Norton.
It marks outrage at “the racism expressed…. The poster clearly equates the Latin American community with crime and stigmatizes Latin American youth. The Toronto Police Association has refused and continues to refuse to apologize for the racist content of the poster.
“I am now writing to urge you and your fellow commissioners to file a commission-generated complaint against the Toronto Police Association.”
Lesbians and gay men of colour in New York held a press conference to trash Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his body guards during that city’s Pride parade.
Representatives from a series of groups say the cops went overboard in providing “security” for the city’s head honcho.
“On Sun, Jun 27, during the Heritage Of Pride 1999 March, Mayor Giuliani and Fire Commissioner Thomas von Essen, accompanied by uniformed and undercover policemen, pushed their way into the 1,000-member people of colour contingent, recklessly endangering the safety of adult and child marchers.
“For 20 blocks of the march… members of the people of colour contingent and their supporters were subjected to police harassment, physical assault and arrest.”
Not everyone on the parade route rolled out the red carpet for this year’s Pride Day devotees.
South Stage spectators were greeted by what appeared to be a neo-Nazi symbol painted on a bed sheet hanging from a Church St balcony just over the beer garden. The accompanying inscription angered some, who waved fists at the nasty bedding.
It read: “Hypocrits [sic]. Dyke March, Anti-Gay, Anti-Pride.”