New York City Pride has taken steps to ban police officers from participating in the parade and associated events.
Organisers told the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL), which represents officers from the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies who identify within the LGBTQ community, that they would not be welcomed in the parade.
The ban would prevent officers and other law enforcement personnel from participating in the NYC Pride parade until at least 2025.
The NYPD would also be asked to stay at least one block away from events related to NYC Pride including the parade. Heritage of Pride, which organises the events, said that they would instead be turning to private security and only use the NYPD if necessary.
Removing law enforcement from NYC Pride comes as organisers have faced pressure from activists for years to prohibit police involvement in the event. This pressure mounted following the death of George Floyd and other incidences of police brutality in the last year.
NYC Pride, one of the largest Pride marches in the world, started 51 years ago following the 1969 anti-police riots in response to a police raid at Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s West Village. Organisers have maintained that police presence at the parade is contrary to why the annual event was originally started.
GOAL announced the move by NYC Pride ahead of the organisers’ official announcement on Saturday.
“The Gay Officers Action League (“GOAL”) is disheartened by the decision to ban our group from participating in New York City Pride,” the group said in a statement released Friday.
“Heritage of Pride (NYC Pride) has long been a valued partner of our organization and its abrupt about-face in order to placate some of the activists in our community is shameful.”
The non-profit organisation has worked for nearly 30 years to advocate for LGBTQ rights within police departments. The group includes 300 members who would participate in NYC Pride, as well as about 2,800 affiliated members.
Detective Brian Downey, president of the police group, called the move from NYC Pride “dehumanising”.
“It is demoralizing that Heritage of Pride didn’t have the courage to refer to GOAL by name in its announcement, referring to us only as ‘Law Enforcement Exhibitors.’ The label is not only offensive but dehumanizing for our members,” he said.
The full impact of the ban will not be apparent in 2021 events as some aspects remain virtual due to the pandemic. Organisers will still have to work with the NYPD on future Pride parades as the department gives out permits for large events in the city.
“The idea of officers being excluded is disheartening and runs counter to our shared values of inclusion and tolerance,” NYPD spokeswoman, Sergeant Jessica McRorie, told The New York Times. “That said, we’ll still be there to ensure traffic safety and good order during this huge, complex event.”
There have so far been no similar announcements by Pride event organizers in other cities.