Pride & Police Uniforms

Auckland Pride will hold a Hui but will the Board change their mind?

It’s nice but truly surprising that the Auckland Pride Festival Board need a public meeting/Hui. Until you realise that as far as the Board are concerned they are not changing their decision. Just educating the sadly misled community. The meeting is simply to explain why they made the decision they did and for some who are affected to speak.

There seems to be no awareness of the surveys online on the Express and Gay Republic Facebook pages wherein generally 90+ % say Police should be able to march in their uniforms.

Or the many online forums and chats where the vast majority of respondents think Police should be able to march in Uniform. Or indeed community stalwarts such as Georgina Beyer, a staunch supporter of Pride who says “We can’t wallow in our own victim hood forever. We have to move forward, and this type of decision is destructive.” Surely the Pride board must be aware of this talk, so they seem to be wilfully disregarding the majority of the community. They obviously think this really is an issue worth pissing off a large part of the community. But by choosing to ban doesn’t that go against everything Pride stands for? Isn’t the whole point of Pride about inclusion?

Minorities
I am sorry for using that term. ‘Minorities’ within our communities need our full support and as a prominent LGBT+ Organisation Auckland Pride must be leading those changes, making them happen. The fact that the majority of the community doesn’t have much knowledge of the experience of various minorities within our communities and often doesn’t validate them is cause for concern. Part of Auckland Prides ambit is “..building capability and encouraging understanding within and between the Rainbow to build strong communities that recognise and support intersectional identities” and one of its jobs is to “promote equality: where any sector or group of the Rainbow communities is considered by the Board to be unequal or discriminated against, actively advocate for and support, such a group or individuals in ways that will facilitate positive change”. We do need to realise that this is happening because of a failure by the LGBT community to recognise those not having it so good. So all power to pride for bringing this to us.

But the method they are using is way over the top.
It’s not that this issue is being raised that is the problem. It’s the way it has been raised.

What Pride should be doing is bringing those concerns to the community. Encouraging talk and discussion online etc, propaganda if you want to call it that, to help all us ‘bootlickers’, who see the world from a ‘neoliberal individuated position’, ‘whitestreemers’ to understand how this all works. To help the whole community to know that things are not ok with lots of us. And perhaps, as part of that, to stop the namecalling.

Pain
I have had numerous experiences with the Police. There are some Police who are nasty and in various forms will demonstrate their power and lord it over you. The reality is, even if you have done nothing, the Police can search you, take your name and address and phone number, look at your phone, arrest you; particularly if you don’t want to tell them anything.

So it’s logical that some people who have been badly treated by someone in Uniform would feel uncomfortable at the sight of them. It’s the ones without the Uniforms that bother me. But I don’t believe that stopping the Police from marching in their Uniforms in the parade is the best way to deal with this issue. I hear your anxiety, I have felt it, I also know that if we choose to we will feel anxiety about anything. The very presence of crosses in parades, military in parades, Men in the Parade, Women in the Parade, for some people are also triggers. Where does it stop? No ones pain is more than anothers. We have all harmed others, we have all been harmed by others. I’m sorry, I know it’s hard, I have been through hell, but we have to move on. Jim Marjoram has written about Triggers , have a read. We need to heal ourselves. We just can’t discriminate against each other.

Not so easy for the Police
If you are locked up, Police and Prisons are faced with a dilemma, everything is based on male and female, where do they put you? If Corrections put you in with the women you will probably get raped and/or put in 23 hour lock up. If they put you in with the men even in a good unit, you may get picked on, and it’s quite possible you will be raped or enter into some sort of sexual relationship with another prisoner, probably for protection. If they put you in 23 hour lock up they can guarantee your safety but you’ll go mad. And that’s aside from questions like, should a male search you if you have male genitalia? Or if you identify as a woman should you just be treated as a woman? In which case a female officer must search you and look at your male genitals. It’s not an easy job.
There’s a mountain of issues in all this but my understanding is that Police, Corrections and other organisations are, actually, working to make changes and welcome the involvement of ‘minority groups’.

The Police have traditionally enforced societies rules and mainly reflected NZ in their work. But they have had to enforce rules whether they believed in them or not. That was their job. Their Uniform represents them as an organisation and in most ways the way the majority of New Zealanders think things should be. Irrespective of their past the current Police policy in regard to LGBT+ is equal treatment irrespective of almost any fact. Police are to treat you as a person and as they would expect to be treated by you.

Oh there are individuals and there always have been who enforce the law and don’t mind showing you their power. But that’s not what NZ Police stand for. Those people need to be named and shamed and moved out. It is the uniform that we respect, as any soldier will tell you. The Police Uniform is a badge of honour. It has honour, it represents NZ. People who wear the uniform and don’t epitomise the values don’t belong in the Uniform. If you have been badly treated by the Police, that is not Police policy.

Uniforms
So for me, if the Police march they actually NEED to march in their Uniforms. Because it is the Uniform that is deserving of respect. Not necessarily any individual police officers.
When I see a Police Officer, even though I don’t know whether they will be ok to me or not. It is the uniform I initially respect. Most Police Officers do the job because they want the best for our society. And LGBT+ Police Officers (and this has been going on in Corrections too) have fought through as much drama and hate and terribly bad treatment at the hands of their colleagues and the public as anyone else, perhaps more so. The fact that they choose still to march in the Parade, in Uniform, knowing they represent an organisation they now can believe in, and that believes in them; speaks volumes.

So I think it’s a no brainer that the Police must be able to march in the Parade in Uniform, I don’t think they should march as Police and not be in Uniform. If they are in the parade they are representing the Police as an organisation. They must be in Uniform. Otherwise it’s a backward step.

Work for pride
But what of those who are still badly treated by the Police? This is where Prides energy should be concentrated. Bring the community with you, don’t alienate; that’s surely what Pride is about. I know that the Board works hard and I appreciate you. I just think that in this case things have gone a little awry.
Auckland Pride is to give “voice to members of the Rainbow communities that are fighting for respect and equality and championing the elimination of discrimination of the Rainbow communities”. You certainly need to do that on this/these issues but not by alienating 90% of the community. Many of whom have fought long and hard for the rights we have now.

These ‘minorities’ need to be lifted up in our communities, encouraged to talk, we need to know what’s going on. Why don’t they have a float in the Parade? Why doesn’t Pride help them distribute information along the Parade route? Why isn’t someone helping them with some short, to the point, video’s covering what the issues are? Why doesn’t Pride organise workshops on these sorts of issues over the Pride festival? But most importantly, lets discuss what the real, long term solutions are. We need to know that’s happening, why and what to do.

We are one but we are many
If I expect people to treat me equally then I must treat everyone else the same. EVERYONE is as good as anyone else. There can be NO discrimination of any sort. I think that actually we all believe in that.

• I propose that the Police be allowed to march in the Parade in Uniform.
• I propose that Auckland Pride, at a minimum be tasked with holding forums/huis to discuss these issues during Pride 2019 and that the Board commit to educating the LGBT+ Community about these issues in an appropriate manner.
• If the Auckland Pride Board are not amenable I propose a Special General Meeting be called at the Hui and a vote be held immediately on these issues.

David Dennis
Saturday, 17 November 2018

 

This article was originally published on news.limited by David Dennis. Read the original article.

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