As calls for police reform and increased social justice continue to be felt across the U.S., the organizers of NYC Pride — the country’s largest and most well-known Pride celebration — have announced a decision to ban police officers from participating in the city’s massive LGBTQ festivity until at least 2025.
In a statement posted on the group’s official website, organizers wrote “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 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. NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community,” said event organizers. “The steps being taken by the organization challenge law enforcement to acknowledge their harm and to correct course moving forward, in hopes of making an impactful change.”
Effective immediately, NYC Pride will be banning corrections and law enforcement exhibitors at NYC Pride events until 2025. According to the press release, NYPD’s participation in the event thereafter will be reviewed by the Community Relations and Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusion committees, as well as the Executive Board. Throughout the four-year ban, NYC Pride will instead “transition to providing increased community-based security and first responders, while simultaneously taking steps to reduce NYPD presence at events.”
Following the announcement, André Thomas, co-chair of NYC Pride, said the decision “follows many months of conversation and discussion with key stakeholders in the community. We would like to extend our thanks to the Anti-Violence Project which provided invaluable advice and counsel to help us take these important steps.”
Sarah Polus of The Hill reported that “NYPD officers assigned to monitor the parade will be requested to keep a block’s distance at all times,” adding that police on the scene will intervene “only when absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials.”
According to Polus, a number of LGBTQ officers in the region, including the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL), have blasted the ban, claiming it is unfair to community members who also happen to work in law enforcement.
“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,” GOAL said in a statement.
In a statement provided to The Hill, a spokesperson for the NYPD said, “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.”
This year’s NYC Pride Parade is scheduled for Sunday, June 27. The 2021 theme is “The Fight Continues,” the event will have virtual and in-person components, pending COVID-19 restrictions.