New York City Pride organizers banned the New York Police Department (NYPD) from taking part in the annual parade in June, as well as related events, arguing the police presence threatened community members.
“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,” Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit that plans the city’s Pride events, said in a statement 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. NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community,” the announcement continued. “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.”
According to the group’s statement, they are also banning all law enforcement and corrections exhibitors from NYC Pride events until 2025, at which point their “participation will be reviewed.”
“This announcement follows many months of conversation and discussion with key stakeholders in the community,” said NYC Pride Co-Chair André Thomas. “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.”
In lieu of a police presence, event organizers said the NYPD will no longer be needed for security and first response, opting to use “trained private security, community leaders and volunteers” instead. The gay-rights group said they would only use New York City law enforcement “when absolutely necessary” and “as mandated by city officials.”
“There’s always been aggression by law enforcement and it’s been an issue in the community for years,” Heritage of Pride spokesperson Dan Dimant told CNN Saturday. “The events of last year, with protests over George Floyd, there have been a lot of run-ins with the NYPD, so we began to think long and hard about this decision.”
The theme for this year’s Pride parade is “The Fight Continues.” Last year’s in-person event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a virtual event was held. This year will have both in-person and virtual celebrations, Dimant said.
An NYPD spokesperson said the decision to ban police officers from the event was “disheartening.”
“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,” Detective Denise Moroney said in a statement. “That said, we’ll still be there to ensure traffic safety and good order during this huge, complex event.”