Police in San Francisco will not join marchers in the city’s Pride Parade after the organizer’s board banned participants from wearing law enforcement uniforms. The board wants to avoid “intimidating” participants who are sensitive to the department.
Mayor London Breed announced the decision Monday while standing firm on her support for the event. Calling it one of her “favorite events,” the mayor said she must support “brave women and men” who not only serve the city but are willing to be openly gay in uniform.
The mayor notes the committee would never order the “leather community” to don polyester or the “drag community” to dress in flannel. She adds that communities cannot say they want “more Black (or) LGBT officers” and then not show them respect when they serve.
The San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance protested the decision by parade organizers. The group declared that not being able to wear their police uniforms while participating in the parade is like being “forced to go back into the closet.”
Officers said Monday that the declaration by organizers left them with little choice. They had only one option if they were to participate, and that was to hang up their uniforms.
Also opting against walking with marchers are LGBT members of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department, which is not subject to the ban.
The Pride Committee offered a compromise to allow law enforcement to participate in matching t-shirts or polo shirts displaying their affiliation. This was not accepted. Officers of course will be on duty at the event to ensure safety.
Suzanne Ford, SF Pride’s interim executive director, said that uniformed police officers are banned from several Pride events across the country. New York City, Denver, and San Diego are among the events to ban the uniforms, and Ford said it’s part of the “national conversation.”
Ford cites a 2019 incident between police and protesters for the decision. Protesters that year blocked the parade denouncing both the police presence and corporate sponsorship. Two protesters were arrested after police say they broke down barricades and threw water bottles at officers.
This year’s event is in June and will be the first held there in two years due to the pandemic. With any luck, police and other first responders will not be needed.