Groups representing LGBTQIA+ members of law enforcement will be banned from participating in NYC Pride events, including the annual march held each June, organizers announced Saturday.
Heritage of Pride, which organizes the annual march and events, announced the immediate suspension of law-enforcement affiliated groups from participating in NYC Pride events through at least 2025. Organizers say that decision will be reviewed by leadership to determine the policy's future.
The decision to bar such groups from participation comes as Heritage of Pride makes efforts to greatly reduce the overall number of police and participating law enforcement from its events -- that includes the use of the NYPD that has previously partnered with the organization to provide security.
Instead, the NYPD will "provide first response and security only when absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials" and officers will be kept one block away from the march and other events whenever possible, organizers said. The group plans to fund the use of private security for emergency response and volunteers trained in de-escalation.
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"NYC Pride seeks to create safer spaces for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC and trans communities, has continued to escalate," the statement from Heritage of Pride said Saturday. "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 Gay Officers Action League was the first to react to the decision by Heritage of Pride, reacting late Friday before the official announcement came out. GOAL, which represents LGBTQ officers and members of the NYPD, called the decision to "placate some of the activists in our community is shameful."
“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 and honoring the shared legacy of the Stonewall Riots,” said GOAL President Brian Downey.
The NYPD similarly released a statement expressing their disapproval of the move: "Our annual work to ensure a safe, enjoyable Pride season has been increasingly embraced by its participants. The idea of officers being excluded is disheartening and runs counter to our shared values of inclusion and tolerance. That said, we’ll still be there to ensure traffic safety and good order during this huge, complex event.”
The decision to reduce the role of law enforcement in Pride events comes after much pushback and pressure from community activists who point to the march's inception: the 1969 anti-police riot at Stonewall Inn. The Queer Liberation March was created two years ago in response to the criticisms of corporate and police partnership.
Last year's Queer Liberation March, which was held in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, ended in violent confrontations with police from the NYPD. One officer was seen on video pushing a person off a bike. In another clash between protesters and police, officers deployed pepper spray; three people were arrested.
After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 50th anniversary of the Pride parade and many of its surrounding events, many of NYC Pride's in-person events will move forward this year while the annual parade scheduled for June 27 will remain virtual.