Activists with a Canadian offshot of the Black Lives Matter movement successfully hijacked a Gay Pride parade in Toronto this weekend and forced organizers to agree to a list of demands including removing “oppressive” police floats from future parades and prioritizing the hiring of transgender black females in the future.
To the dismay of both marchers and bystanders and despite being invited to the festivities as “honoured guests,” the Black Lives Matter protesters ground the procession to a halt for nearly 30 minutes, stopping floats and staging a sit-in during which they shouted “Shut it down!”
— BlackLivesMatter TO (@BLM_TO) July 3, 2016
Alexandra Williams, co-founder of the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter, told the CBC’s Natasha Fatah that the group wanted to hold Pride Toronto accountable for what she called its “anti-blackness” and for pushing people of color to the margins for “way to long.”
The protestors refused to let the parade resume until Pride officials agreed to a list of demands that, among other things, included banning police floats from future marches and prioritizing “black trans women, indigenous people and others from vulnerable communities” in Pride Toronto’s hiring efforts.
— BlackLivesMatter TO (@BLM_TO) July 4, 2016
To end the blockade and get the crowds moving, the Pride executive director surrendered immediately and signed a document agreeing to the demands. He also committed to hold a town hall to consult with his community.
This is not the first time Black Lives Matter activists have co-opted a rally to bring attention to their cause.
Last month, a University of Missouri graduate and BLM activist interrupted an Orlando prayer vigil, and accused the mostly white crowd of having a double standard that weighed the LGBTQ community above those of “people of color.”
Similarly, last summer, a woman who identified herself as co-founder of BLM Seattle, forcefully seized a microphone from Senator Bernie Sanders during a campaign speech and called for a one-minute moment of silence in honor of Michael Brown — the Missouri teen whose death at the hands of white police officers catalyzed the movement.
The Canadian branch of the organization seems to be following the lead of its southern sibling. A co-founder of the Toronto chapter, Yusra Khogali has come under fire for comparing Canada to the KKK (“KKKanada”), calling Toronto City Police a “terrorist organization,” and imploring Allah to give her “strength to not kill these men and white folks” in a series of vitriolic tweets.
Even the Globe and Mail is frowning upon the group’s tactics. Columnist Margaret Wente noted that at a time when identity politics is king, the more “minority identities” you possess, the greater is your claim for recognition, redress and a soapbox.”