It might not have lived up to its “huge public protest” billing, but the chaos outside the entrance of the Surrey RCMP detachment building leading up to the force flying the rainbow Pride flag on Monday morning featured dueling placards, stern cops and verbal abuse aplenty.
There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control.
An organization vehemently opposed to SOGI 123 in public schools arrived with signs in hand after warning the Surrey RCMP on Friday that it will face a “huge public protest” if it flies a “political” LGBTQ+ rainbow Pride flag at its Newton detachment building on Monday morning, which it did. Those in support of the flag raising also came, with their signs in hand, resulting in shouting matches, name-calling, sloganeering and a hearty rendition of O Canada.
Whistles were blown, attempts to speak were met with “blah, blah, blah,” and people on both sides shouted out about their respective rights while trying to silence the others. It was shrill.
Kari Simpson, director of CultureGuard, sent a letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan and Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, urging “immediate reconsideration” of the planned flag-hoisting.
“The pride flag represents a sex activist political movement that is hostile to free speech, to parental rights, and to freedom of assembly,” Simpson wrote to the RCMP brass, “and is currently targeting children with an extremist transgender and sexual orientation agenda through the public education system.”
Simpson claims raising this flag runs contrary to the RCMP’s Code of Conduct prescribing that its members act with “impartiality.”
“The RCMP has a duty to remain neutral,” Simpson wrote in her letter.
“If the event proceeds, I will organize a protest,” she wrote to the police. “I will also publish information concerning one of the invited groups that will not bode well for the RCMP.”
Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald after raucous protest and raising of Pride flag at the entrance of the Surrey RCMP detachment on Monday. The flag will fly for one week. #surreybc pic.twitter.com/EfPrj2YFMh— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) June 24, 2019
Sergeant Chad Greig, of the Surrey RCMP, said that “as Canada’s national police service, it is important that the RCMP lead by example in promoting diversity and inclusion. The Pride flag represents equality and inclusion and displaying of the flag is a reflection, acknowledgement and support for a community within a larger community.”
Greig said that during June the RCMP “celebrates Pride Month and shows support for LGBTQ+ rights, culture and communities.
“All RCMP employees are encouraged to participate in local events, parades, festivals and other commemorative activities being held to mark the occasion,” he said. “We are aware of a group’s intent to protest the Surrey RCMP’s Pride event in Monday and respect their right to a lawful democratic protest.”
The flag will fly for one week.
Meantime, the City of Surrey rejected a request from Martin Rooney, president of the Surrey Pride Society, to fly the Pride flag at city hall to commemorate the 5oth anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. “If you are willing and able to participate, your organization will receive a $750 honorarium,” he wrote. “This can be used to purchase a flag (if necessary) or to cover costs of the ceremony/gathering and whatever else you might decide to do with it.”
Culture Guard leader Kari Simpson hands Surrey RCMP top cop Dwayne McDonald a list of flags she wants him to fly at the Surrey RCMP detachment entrance, including a Judeo-Christian flag in October as well as Muslim and Sikh flags, among other faiths. #SURREYBC pic.twitter.com/jXEOzSL4CP— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) June 24, 2019
Surrey’s General Manager Laurie Cavan responded, in a letter, that based on the city’s “current flag policy and practice,” it “will not participate in this opportunity as described in your correspondence. We look forward to working with you on the various Pride initiatives that we have held in the past and have planned for 2019.”
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is expected to proclaim June 24 to July 1 “LGBTQ+ Pride Week” at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Simpson said that now the RCMP has flown the Pride flag “they have a responsibility to fly all of our flags, whether we’re Christian, whether we’re Muslim, whether we’re Sikh or Jewish. Communities are protected as well, whether you’re Romanian, Croatian, all Canadians. So if we’re going to fly one flag, we’re going to fly everybody’s flag, or we’re going to fly the Canadian flag only, which represents everybody.”
Rooney said he attended to “simply support the RCMP. We understand the request to fly the flag came from internally so we are here to totally support the RCMP in flying the Pride flag.”
Meantime, McDonald had this to say “about our raising of the Pride flag at the detachment.
“The RCMP, and particularly the Surrey RCMP, are supportive of an inclusive and diverse population and it’s important for us to embrace all cultures in our community,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of people who have attended – people that support the Pride flag and those that are opposed to it. I think that’s important in a democratic society,” he told the Now-Leader. “We recognize there is different viewpoints but as I said before, I think it’s nice to have this level of public input in decisions of policing in the city, but again I think it’s important for us to embrace inclusivity and diversity. I think this is a positive moment in time for policing here in the city where we allow everyone to express their opinion.”