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‘Very challenging relationship’: Pride Toronto gets more security but not more uniformed police

Plans are in the works to increase security for Pride Toronto in the wake of the massacre at a gay club in Orlando over the weekend, but organizers say they do not want more uniformed police officers patrolling Pride events and Toronto police say they understand the concern.

Citing the “challenging relationship” some members of the LGBT community have with police, Pride Toronto Executive Director Mathieu Chantelois said an increased presence of uniformed officers is “not ideal.”

“We have to consider that many marginalized groups of our community have a very challenging relationship with police. So for us the solution is a very sophisticated plan. It’s definitely not to just double the amount of police in uniforms,” Chantelois said on Monday after meeting with Toronto Police, the RCMP and staff from the Prime Minister’s office.

Chantelois said the plan to not increase the number of uniformed officers was made mutually with Toronto police, the RCMP and the Prime Minister’s Office, which took part in a Pride security review meeting because Justin Trudeau will march in the parade..

“They knew this was not the answer,” Chantelois said.

Police working to improve relationship

Toronto Police LGBT Liaison Officer Danielle Bottineau understands the concern Pride organizers have.

“Unfortunately we don’t have the best track record as a service when it comes to the [LGBT] community,” she said in an interview.

Bottineau pointed out this year marks the 35th anniversary of the Bathhouse Raids, the 1981 police operation that saw hundreds of gay men rounded up and arrested

BATHHOUSE RAIDS february 12 1981 swastika

A member of the gay community wearing a swastika and a sign stating ‘Fascism is alive and well and breeding in Toronto’ walks past a police officer as he leaves a police commission hearing, Toronto, Ont., Feb. 12, 1981. The people attending the meeting were told that there would be no public inquiry into the previous week’s police raids on four bathhouses. (Harvey/UPC/Canadian Press)

“That’s of significance,” she said

Along with healing historical scars, Bottineau says Toronto police have current challenges as well, notably the way they deal with trans people.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done. Especially for trans community members, and even those who identify as a visible minority as well.”

Bottineau says “major outreach” is currently underway with the trans community, including group discussions and a guide to help trans people report crimes.

Chantelois wouldn’t specify the other ways security will be increased, saying the plan is confidential and still being developed.

CBC | Toronto News

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