NYC Pride announced a ban on law enforcement at its annual celebration, saying it does not want to create an “atmosphere of fear or harm.”
The non-profit organization said the ban would be effective not only at this summer’s events, but at events until 2025, with any participation by law enforcement to be reviewed by the Community Relations and Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusion committees.
“This announcement follows many months of conversation and discussion with key stakeholders in the community,” NYC Pride Co-Chair André Thomas said in a statement.
In past years, NYPD officers in the LGBTQ-A community have joined in the parade, typically in full uniform, and Pride officials felt that it would not be appropriate as NYPD presence can feel “dangerous,” to community members who in the past may have had excessive force used against them.
“NYPD is not required to lead first response and security at NYC Pride events,” NYC Pride said in its statement. “All aspects of first response and security that can be reallocated to trained private security, community leaders, and volunteers will be reviewed. An increased budget for security and first response will allow NYC Pride to independently build a first response emergency plan using private security and provide safety volunteers with de-escalation training for first response when necessary. NYPD will provide first response and security only when absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials.”
NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller addressed the ban, saying it was “disappointing.”
“NYC Pride’s decision to exclude members of the NYPD from Pride events is hurtful and disappointing,” Miller said through Twitter. “… inclusion and dialogue are the oxygen of reform.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed NYPD’s sentiments Monday, calling the decision by NYC Pride, “a mistake.”
“First of all, we have to keep people safe and it’s been an incredibly safe, positive event, and we have to be mindful of continuing that,” Mayor de Blasio said while speaking at City Hall. “Second of all, I believe in inclusion, and we’re talking about, one of the issues is, officers who are members of the LGBT community wanting to march and express their pride and their solidarity to the community, and their desire to keep changing the NYPD and changing the city. That’s something I think should be embraced.”
On the other side of the country, L.A. Pride had a similar dilemma with law enforcement at its 2020 festivities. A march of solidarity with the black community was planned last summer and later canceled after organizers “overlooked the direct police involvement that permitting involved,” when seeking city permits. Instead, an independent committee was formed for a march titled “All Black Lives Matter,” on the day the original Pride march was supposed to take place.
L.A. Pride supported the decision of Black LGBTQ community members moving forward for a march without the organization. ❖
For some historical perspective on police relations with the LGBTQ community, check out this link from the Voice archives: