News (World)

Toronto Pride parade canceled after pro-Palestinian protestors block streets

New York, NY, USA November 12, 2023: Queers for Palestine March from Union Square ending at Stonewall. Marchers on 7th avenue in the West Village carrying a Queers for Palestine banner.
Photo: Shutterstock

Toronto’s Pride Parade came to an abrupt end on Sunday when a group of pro-Palestine activists interrupted the festivities.

The group of about 30 people, called the Coalition Against Pinkwashing, stopped the parade about three and a half hours after the start time. Protestors chanted, “Free Palestine” and “Pride is a protest,” The Toronto Star reported, with floats and parade participants stuck behind the protestors.

About 45 minutes after the protestors blocked the parade,  Pride Toronto announced the cancellation of the remainder of the parade.

“We made the decision to cancel the remainder of the parade out of our commitment to ensuring public safety,” Pride Toronto wrote in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), “While we deeply respect and uphold everyone’s right to peacefully protest, our foremost priority is the well-being of all participants and spectators.”

Protestors had a list of demands, which included divestment from companies “actively involved in violently exploiting native people” on Turtle Island and in Sudan, Palestine, and the Congo. Pride Toronto offered a meeting with protestors but didn’t sign the list of demands on the spot. The parade is Canada’s largest Pride celebration.

“We recognize the Pride Parade as a highly anticipated event that many organizations and individuals eagerly prepare for. We empathize with those who were looking forward to participating and regret any inconvenience caused by this decision,” Pride Toronto’s statement added.

Protestor Layla Salman said, “We’re here for Palestine. We’re here to draw attention to the cause.”

New York City’s 45th annual Pride Parade was also briefly interrupted by protestors. About a dozen protestors “climbed over barricades, tossed fake blood” and stood in front of floats and marchers for roughly 45 minutes before the New York City Police Department intervened, according to The New York Daily News. The protestors held signs that read “No queer liberation without Palestinian liberation” and “Palestine will be free.”

Police reportedly took 10 people into custody and issued seven of the protestors criminal courts summonses.

“It is certainly a more active presence this year in terms of protest at Pride events,” said Sandra Perez, the executive director of NYC Pride told the Associated Press. “But we were born out of a protest.”

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