Pride parade bans police uniforms: Is San Francisco right?
- Pride Month, or Gay Pride, is an annual June celebration that was initially created to commemorate the Stonewall riots in 1969 after police raided Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich, New York.
- On June 11, 1999, President Bill Clinton announced Proclamation 7203 declaring the month of June to be Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.
- Police officers will be banned from wearing their uniforms at San Francisco’s June 26 Pride march and encouraged to don T-shirts with their law enforcement agency instead. Pride Director Suzanne Ford stated, “Some members of our community, the presence of the police in the parade is difficult for them, given their history with the police department.”
- In response to the ban, the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance gave a press release asserting, “For LGBTQ+ officers, this brings us back to a time when we had to hide at work that we were LGBTQ+. Now they ask us to hide the fact of where we work [...] We recognize that the uniform may not represent safety to some, but to many [...] means hope for a future that includes all of us.”
There are several reasons why LGBTQ Pride organizers across the United States tell police departments they will no longer be officially allowed to march in the annual parades. A policeman is welcome to the event and march as long as they do not wear a formal police uniform. The historically contentious relationship between Pride and the police force has been years in the making.
The long-standing feud between members of the LGBTQ community and police started in 1969 when police raided customers at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The police raid was cruel as it was conducted harshly, resulting in severe violence. Patrons who had committed no crime were severely injured and only there because they were gay. Unfortunately, law enforcement in almost every city in the country does not have a good record of interacting with members of the LGBTQ community. There are countless reports about police brutality and violence against LGBTQ participants. The relationship has further soured between the two because of the numerous cases of shootings of young African American men and the horrific death of George Floyd. There were nearly 1021 fatal shootings by the police in 2021 in the US, and of these, 27% involved African Americans. There is a general feeling among members of the pride community that police are way too aggressive and often over-police the event, with people of color being more likely to be arrested for even minor infractions. But the pride community has stated that police are welcome to join the event as long as they are out of uniform. Finally, it is important to be aware that Pride is all about bringing awareness, change, and acceptance peacefully.
The organizers of San Francisco's 2022 Pride Parade have decided they will not allow anyone wearing a police uniform to participate. LGBTQ activists spend much time and energy talking about diversity and inclusion. Yet, at an event where those same activists have control, they have chosen exclusion instead. Banning any police officer from marching in uniform in the San Francisco Pride Parade is anything but inclusive.
The organizers are, in effect, saying one cannot be both proud of one's sexuality and proud of one's profession, at least if they want to participate in the parade. That is very hypocritical. The LGBTQ community demands that others accept them for who they are and what they do. Yet, people cannot make demands of others they aren't willing to demand of themselves. Demonizing individuals or an entire group—in this case, police officers—is what they are supposed to be fighting against. Their mantra is diversity and inclusion. San Francisco police officers have taken the approach of refusing to participate at all. They will not be attending. San Francisco firefighters will be doing the same. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has also said she will not attend the parade either. These are reasonable responses to an unreasonable demand.
Police have been much maligned in recent years. In most instances, though not all, it has not been justified. Even communities that advocated defunding police departments have had a change of heart. San Franciscans by now are well aware of what happens to communities when police are stymied from properly doing their jobs, and prosecutors refuse to do theirs. Groups that preach inclusivity are hypocritical when they take actions that exclude people. That certainly applies to the organizers of the San Francisco Pride parade.