Rights for LGBTQ+ people have come a long way since the Stonewall Riots of 1969. June 28, 1969, New York City police wrongfully raided the Stonewall Inn. Patrons and neighborhood residents began throwing objects at police as people were loaded into police vans. The scene turned into a riot with protests that lasted for five more days. In 1970, at the one-year anniversary, community members marched through the streets in commemoration of the event. That march is now considered the country’s first gay pride parade. The complicated relationship the LGBTQ+ people have with police has created issues within both communities. NYC Pride organizers have banned officers from participating. NYC Pride organizers said its new policy banning “corrections and law enforcement exhibitors” will improve safety. Organizers will seek to keep officers a block away from the celebration of LGBTQ+ people and history. A gay officers group said it was disheartened after the “shameful” decision.
Why are Police Banned from Pride Parade?
NYC Pride organizers said they are banning police and other law enforcement from marching in their huge annual inclusion parade until at least 2025. “NYPD is not required to lead first response and security at NYC Pride events,” the group said. “All aspects of first response and security that can be reallocated to trained private security, community leaders and volunteers will be reviewed.” NYC Pride organizers urged members of traditional law enforcement to “acknowledge their harm and to correct course moving forward.” NYC Pride organizers say the “violence against marginalized groups,” specifically “BIPOC and trans communities,” has continued to escalate. “The sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason,” the statement read. NYC Pride organizers say traditional police units will be used “only when absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials.” They would like for active units to be stationed a whole block away from all people and festivities. This is, of course, not sitting well with with a group a gay officers as they are less than happy with the decision.
How NYC Police are Reacting to Being Banned
A fraternal organization formed in 1982 for LGBTQ officers known as the Gay Officers Action League leaked the announcement recently, ahead of the NYC Pride organizer’s planned release. The disheartened officers called the ban an “abrupt about-face.” “Heritage of Pride is well aware that the city would not allow a large–scale event to occur without police presence. So their response to activist pressure is to take the low road by preventing their fellow community members from celebrating their identities,” Gay Officers Action League President, Brian Downey, said. This should be a time when the two organizations can try to rebuild the bridge for the community and begin the lengthy process of healing. Roughly 200 members of the Gay Officers Action League and their families participate in Pride each year, Dan Dimant, a spokesman for NYC Pride told Fox News. The decision has frustrated gay officers and family members who had hoped to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride marches. “That said, we’ll still be there to ensure traffic safety and good order during this huge, complex event,” Officers of the Gay Officers Action League assured the public.
NYC Pride organizer’s announcement follows a recent division among organizers planning celebrations of LGBTQ+ pride. In 2020, Pride was unable to have a parade or any kind of festivities amid the pandemic. In 2019, there were two marches in Manhattan after part of the local LGBTQ+ community concluded the annual Pride parade had become too commercialized. The Queer Liberation March aimed to be a protest. Attendees were saying the main Pride march was too heavily policed by the same department that raided Stonewall. The New York Police Commissioner apologized for the raid in 2019, calling it “wrong, plain and simple.” NYC Pride organizers are not the first Pride group to ban law enforcement, places such as Sacramento and Vancouver have also banned law enforcement from participating in recent years. Do you believe law enforcement should be banned from participating in Pride? Should Pride organizers be attempting to help rebuild the bridges between law enforcement and local communities?
Written by: Erinn Malloy