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San Francisco’s mayor to opt out of Pride parade over ban on police participating in uniform

By Cheri Mossburg and Taylor Romine, CNN

San Francisco Mayor London Breed will not march in the city’s Pride parade next month if participating police officers are not allowed to wear uniforms, the mayor said in a statement Monday.

The event’s board of directors decided May 11 that off-duty police officers who march in the June 26 parade are not allowed to wear their uniforms, said San Francisco Pride Interim Executive Director Suzanne Ford. Officers are still allowed to participate and show representation for the department through T-shirts, said Ford.

In response to the ban, the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance, which includes police, the fire department and the sheriff’s office, said on Monday that LGBTQ employees have decided not to march in the parade “in order to take a stand against the discriminatory actions of the board of the SF Pride committee.”

In previous years, Ford said, the police department participated by having a “contingent in the parade.”

Not allowing uniformed police officers to participate at Pride events isn’t new. Last year, both New York City Pride and The Center on Colfax, which organizes Denver Pride, announced they would no longer allow police officers to host exhibitions or participate in the parades while in uniform. In 2017, Pride Toronto banned uniformed police officers and their floats from participating. And in 2020, the Vancouver Pride Society followed suit, saying it should have done so earlier.

Participation by uniformed law enforcement at Pride events can seem threatening or dangerous to an LGBTQ+ community that over decades has been targeted with excessive force, even if their presence is intended to foster a sense of community and safety, advocacy groups have said. Indeed, Pride marches began in response to a 1969 police raid on Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, that sparked multiple days of protests.

This year in San Francisco, Breed made the decision to support members of the LGBTQ community who serve in uniform, she said in a statement.

“If the Pride Board does not reverse its decision, I will join our city public safety departments that are not participating in the Pride Parade,” said Breed in a statement.

The unanimous decision by the event’s board came after more than a year of discussion with SFPD’s Pride Alliance following a 2019 incident between protesters and responding officers, said Ford.

“The board made the decision, knowing it was the right thing to do,” she said. “We are disappointed in Mayor Breed’s decision, but look forward to working with her and law enforcement agencies in finding a solution that is satisfactory to all.”

After two years without a parade due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 52nd annual San Francisco Pride weekend is set for June 25 and 26, according to its website.

“The San Francisco Police Department supports the decision of our LGBTQ+ officers,” the department said in a statement. “Even though our members may not be marching in this year’s Pride Parade, the San Francisco Police Department will be on hand to ensure that everyone attending and participating in SF Pride Weekend activities enjoys a safe and celebratory Pride Weekend in San Francisco.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed quotes from San Francisco Pride Interim Executive Director Suzanne Ford.

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