The annual NYC Pride March is set for June 27, but some things may be a little different this year.
Not only will some events be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic; New York City Pride organizers have banned the New York Police Department from participating in the annual June parade and related events. Organizers have also moved to reduce police presence on scene because their appearance can be threatening to members of the community.
Announced Saturday, Heritage of Pride, the non profit organization responsible for planning NYC Pride events stated:
"NYC Pride seeks to create safer spaces for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC and trans communities, has continued to escalate,"
"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."
Pride organizers have confirmed they no longer require security and/or NYPD response as they have reallocated those services to "trained private security, community leaders, and volunteers”.
Dan Dimant, spokesperson of Heritage of Pride, told CNN that the organization has worked with the NYPD for over 25 years.
"There's always been aggression by law enforcement and it's been an issue in the community for years. 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."
In turn, Heritage of Pride will use NYPD first response and security "only when absolutely necessary" and "as mandated by city officials.”
The Gay Officers Action League was the first to publicly respond to the decision by Heritage of Pride, reacting late Friday before the official announcement. GOAL, which represents LGBTQ officers and members of the NYPD, called the decision “shameful."
“The Gay Officers Action League (“GOAL”) is disheartened by the decision to ban our group from participating in New York City Pride. Heritage of Pride (NYC Pride) has long been a valued partner of our organization and its abrupt about-face in order to placate some of the activists in our community is shameful.”
“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 Riots,” said GOAL President Brian Downey.
The NYPD also released a similar statement expressing their disapproval of the move: "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. That said, we’ll still be there to ensure traffic safety and good order during this huge, complex event.”
“Over the course of our nearly 40 years of existence, GOAL has worked feverishly to build a bridge between the LGBTQIA+ and criminal justice communities. Despite Heritage of Pride’s decision, our work will continue.”