Edmonton police to apologize to the LGBTQ community

LGBTQ2 people in Edmonton will receive a long-awaited apology Friday from city police.

Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee is set to make a formal apology on behalf of the force during a news conference Friday at police headquarters.

CBC News will livestream the event, which is set to begin at 11 a.m.

The statement is part of an “ongoing reconciliation process,” Edmonton police said Thursday in a news release.

The apology has been officially in the works since last year. In October 2018, now-retired police chief Rod Knecht confirmed that a statement of apology was being drafted.

He said EPS had made great strides toward building relationships with marginalized communities, and were working with community members to draft an apology that would be meaningful.

“An apology has got to be a beginning, not an end,” Knecht said at the time. “I think by just checking off a box and saying ‘I’m sorry,’ I don’t think that would resolve the issue for all people.”

Some members of the LGBT2Q community have painful histories with Edmonton police, and many advocates have said an apology is a necessary step toward righting historical wrongs. 

In 1981, 50 police officers raided the Pisces Health Spa, a downtown bath house. Around 60 people were arrested.

For years police routinely outed gay men by releasing their names, which were then published in newspapers.

In 2018, the Calgary Police Service issued a formal apology to the LGBTQ community for discrimination over the years. In 2016, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders apologized for raids on bath houses in 1981.

A 1981 CBC Edmonton report explores the experience of LGBTQ people. 1:23

EPS said it has been working closely with the LGBTQ community for years to improve relationships through its work with the sexual minorities community liaison committee.

Former Edmonton police commissioner Murray Billett co-founded the committee in 1992 in an attempt to tackle homophobia in the police service, he said.

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