St. John's Pride bans uniformed police at events; meeting organizer laments 'rush to judgment'


St. John's Pride will not allow uniformed police officers to attend any events during this year's Pride Week, including its annual parade next month.

As well, it withdrew from a now-cancelled event planned for this weekend that had been intended to hold open discussions about the relationship between police and the LGBTQ community.

The Pride board's decision followed a social media controversy over the organization's participation in a Police and Pride discussion panel that had been scheduled for Saturday.

The event was to feature speakers from the LGBTQ community, researchers from Memorial University and representatives from the RNC and RCMP.

Sulaimon Giwa, PhD, an assistant professor in MUN's school of social work, helped organize the Police and Pride event.

As a racialized member of the LGBTQ community, he said he understands why people were upset but he argues that organizers had been keeping safety and sensitivity top of mind during planning. 

"I've been subjected to those sources of racism, so I know what it feels like and I know what lack of safety also means in terms of my ability to exist in society," said Giwa.

"For people to just rush to judgment, without having the full facts, it's really quite disappointing."

According to the event description, the Police and Pride discussion panel was intended to "provide interactive opportunity for dialogue about police and Pride," and "consider what the relationship between police and Pride could look like going forward."

Giwa said that the discussion would have welcomed all viewpoints, and generated recommendations for a report about future police participation in Pride.

St. John's Pride declined to comment for this article.