San Francisco Pride organisers have been told by the city’s Democratic Mayor London Breed that she will boycott the annual Pride parade, if police officers are not allowed to march  in uniform. LGBTQI Officers from San Francisco police and fire departments have also said they wailed boycott Pride over the ban. 

Police presence in pride marches have been a contentious issue across the world, including in Australia. In 2020, in the wake of protests over the murder of George Floyd, SF Pride organisers had banned the police from marching in the parade in uniform. The 2020 and 2021 Pride parades were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The organisers said that this year they had requested law enforcement agencies who are participating in SF Pride, scheduled to be held on June 26, to do so out of uniform. The officers were reportedly offered the alternative of marching in t-shirts that denoted their role. 

Police Given Option Of ‘Alternative Attire’

A file photo of the San Francisco Pride parade. Image: Facebook

“San Francisco Pride has been working for the past several months with law enforcement agencies, including the SFPD Pride Alliance, to come to an agreement that prioritises marginalised communities to ensure they are safe, represented, and included during Pride month and beyond. One of the top priorities is that San Francisco Pride remains a positive, celebratory event for all, especially for our Black, Trans, and Lesbian/Gay/Queer+ family,” the Interim Executive Director and Board of Directors of San Francisco Pride said in a statement. 

The Board said that the organisers had requested “those participating from law enforcement agencies do so out of uniform and in an alternative attire that still represents their organisation. Unfortunately, we have not come to a solution that is mutually beneficial.”

LGBTQI officers in the San Francisco police department however were not happy with the offer of marching in t-shirts and decided to boycott the pride parade.

“The San Francisco Police Department supports the decision of our LGBTQ+ officers. We proudly stand with Mayor London Breed, members of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office, and San Francisco Fire Department, to not march in the San Francisco Pride Parade. We will be there to support them when the time comes that they return to marching in the parade,” said the police in a statement on social media.

Mayor Condemns SF Pride Ban

Breed too expressed displeasure with the decision  and said that she would not participate in the Pride march unless police officers were allowed to march in uniform. 

“One of the central planks of the movement for better policing is a demand that the people who serve in uniform better represent the communities they are policing. We can’t say, ‘We want more Black officers,’ or ‘We want more LGBTQ officers,’ and then treat those officers with disrespect when they actually step up and serve,” Breed stated

San Francisco Mayor London Breed

The presence of police officers marching in uniform in Pride parades have been controversial, due to the long history of how law enforcement agencies have treated LGBTQI and other marginalised communities in the past. The very first pride march in the US in New York in 1970 was organised to mark the one year anniversary of the police raid on Stonewall Inn. 

In recent years a growing number of pride organisers have banned police officers from marching in uniform in Pride parades, including in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Denver and San Francisco. In Australia too, there have been calls to ban police in uniform from marching in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian mardi Gras, Midsumma Pride march in Melbourne and Brisbane Pride.

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