On June 3 2020 Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) joined the rest of the HIV sector across Ontario by signing a statement of solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The statement includes a call for our own sector accountability to “examine the ways in which our own silence makes us complicit (to state violence against BIPOC) and commit to identifying and addressing occurrences of anti-Black racism within our sector and organizations.” RHAC is committed to ensuring our own accountability on these critically important issues. The history of HIV/AIDS social justice was driven by a lack of response from government, political leaders and others holding power within the system as gay men died of AIDS by the thousands. Again, we are fighting for the lives of marginalized community members.
RHAC will not be silent on this important issue and we stand with BLM and Pride London Festival (PLF) in support of their respectful request of London Police Service (LPS) to refrain from raising the Pride Flag in 2020. This does not need to be a divisive request, rather is presents an opportunity for LPS to engage in a dialogue with PLF and BLM to listen, with humility, as LPS works to address an explicit lack of progress with their own diversity/equity/inclusion plan.
RHAC values the important role of policing in our community! However the expanded scope of police responsibility has resulted in a default to utilization of police officers in matters better served by health, social service and other professionals. It is imperative to re-imagine police services in 2020. It’s equally important to assess and transform other long-standing systems and structures that perpetuate racism; including health, social services, justice and education. The lives of BIPOC literally depend on system transformation. We all have a role in moving toward a more civil society for all citizens.