New York City Pride organizers announced over the weekend the banning of the New York Police Department from participating in Pride events, including the city’s annual Pride parade, until at least 2025, citing concerns over the NYPD’s treatment of LGBTQ and other marginalized populations.
In a statement Saturday, the non-profit organization Heritage of Pride, which organizes NYC Pride, announced that corrections and law enforcement exhibitors are barred from NYC Pride events effective immediately and the organization is also “taking steps to reduce NYPD presence at events.”
“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 said. “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.”
Heritage of Pride will forgo the NYPD’s aid with security and first response during Pride events in favor of “trained private security, community leaders and volunteers,” stating that the organization will accomodate NYPD involvement in such operations “only when absolutely necessary” and when “mandated by city officials.”
The organization has worked with the NYPD for nearly three decades, but some key points of contention, most prominently the NYPD’s conduct during last year’s protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, forced Heritage of Pride officials to rethink the NYPD’s involvement in Pride events.
The NYPD formally apologized for the organizations role in the Stonewall Riots in 2019, 50 years after the event synonymous with the LGBTQ rights movement. One year later, NYPD officers assaulted participants in the Queer Liberation March with batons and pepper spray while allegedly covering their badge numbers.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who honored Stonewall on social media as NYPD officers assaulted the Queer Liberation March last year, called the decision “a mistake” while speaking to the press Monday. “First of all, we have to keep people safe, and it’s been an incredibly safe, positive event, and we have to be mindful of continuing that,” De Blasio said. “I believe in inclusion. and we are talking about one of the issues is officers who are members of the LGBT community wanting to march, and they express their pride, their solidarity, to the community, and their desire to keep changing NYPD and changing the city. That’s something I think should be embraced.”
The NYPD’s LGBTQ officer organization, the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL), categorized Heritage of Pride decision’s as a “response to activist pressure” and the non-profit taking “the low road” in that response. “Heritage of Pride is well aware that the city would 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 of the Stonewall Riot,” said GOAL president Det. Brian Downey.
An NYPD spokesman called the decision “disheartening” and that it “runs counter to our shared values of inclusion and tolerance.”
According to NYC Pride co-chair André Thomas, the decision was made cautiously and with input from community members. “This announcement follows many months of conversation and discussion with key stakeholders in the community,” Thomas told ABC 7.
NYC Pride will involve both virtual and in-person events this year after going fully virtual last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Heritage of Pride stated it will reevaluate NYPD participation in NYC Pride events in 2025.