Gay police group blasts NYC Pride for banning officers from events

John Bacon

A gay officers group said it was disheartened after a "shameful" decision by organizers of certain Pride gatherings in New York City to ban police from their events.

NYC Pride said its new policy banning "corrections and law enforcement exhibitors" through at least 2025 will improve safety as violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, people of color – and trans communities, has  escalated.

"NYPD is not required to lead first response and security at NYC Pride events," the group said. "All aspects of first response and security that can be reallocated to trained private security, community leaders and volunteers will be reviewed."

The Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) said NYC Pride has long been a valued partner.

"The abrupt about-face in order to placate some of the activists in our community is shameful," GOAL said.

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The first Gay Pride parades and marches in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in 1970 came a year after an uprising in 1969 outside Manhattan’s Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, following a police raid.

Plans for marches in 2020, marking 50 years since those first marches, were ruined by the pandemic. In 2019, there were two marches in Manhattan amid concerns that the annual parade had become too commercialized. Some participants in the alternative Queer Liberation March claimed the Pride march was too heavily policed by the department responsible for the Stonewall raid.

June is Pride Month, and the annual parade is set to return this year on June 27. The theme is “The Fight Continues,” reflecting the "multitude of battles" the city and country face, NYC Pride said. The group cited the coronavirus pandemic, police brutality, the alarming murder rate for trans people of color, economic hardship, climate disasters, violent efforts to disenfranchise voters and "our rights as a community being questioned."

GOAL President Brian Downey said NYC Pride is aware that the city will 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,” Downey said. "It is demoralizing that (NYC Pride) didn’t have the courage to refer to GOAL by name in its announcement, referring to us only as ‘law enforcement exhibitors.’ The label is not only offensive but dehumanizing for our members.”

NYC Pride said it will increase its budget for security and first response, so it can independently build an emergency plan using private security and trained volunteers. NYPD will provide first response and security only when absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials, NYC Pride said.

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The group said it was unwilling to "contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community." 

"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 said. "The steps being taken by the organization challenge law enforcement to acknowledge their harm and to correct course moving forward."

People participate in the NYC Pride March on June 30, 2019, in New York City.