After years of outcry and criticism, Heritage of Pride, the organizers behind New York City Pride, is banning participation in Pride events by police groups for the next four years. The move will come alongside other steps to reduce police presence at the annual events.
"This announcement follows many months of conversation and discussion with key stakeholders in the community," NYC Pride Co-Chair Andre Thomas said in a statement that declared "effective immediately, NYC Pride will ban corrections and law enforcement exhibitors at NYC Pride events until 2025. At that time their participation will be reviewed by the Community Relations and Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusion committees, as well as the Executive Board."
According to the statement, the decision comes after advice from organizations like the Anti-Violence Project, National Black Justice Coalition, DapperQ, Compass Strategies Consulting, as well as advocate Devin Norelle. It was made in light of how threatening the presence of police can be to some members of the community.
In place of NYPD, private security, community leaders, and volunteers will lead first response and security at events. NYPD will only be involved when "absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials. In these instances, NYC Pride will review foreseeable NYPD involvement and, in partnership with surrounding venue precincts, take steps to keep police officers at least one city block away from event perimeter areas where possible." NYPD will also not be allowed to speak at events or use the NYC Pride platform. Police presence are being asked to stay a block away from all in-person events.
This decision stops short of disallowing police to appear in uniform at Pride events. While police groups can't participate, individual officers still can under the guidelines. It follows others like Pride Toronto and Indy Pride in cutting ties with police.
Pride began 51 years ago in remembrance of an anti-police uprising at Stonewall Inn. Activists have held actions during Pride to protest the inclusion of police and efforts like the Reclaim Pride organization have openly criticized the relationship.
"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," Brian Downey, the president of the Gay Officers Action League told the New York Times of the decision to ban police organizations. It is important to note here that no members of the community are banned from participating -- officers can still march but not in groups -- and the legacy of the Stonewall Riots was a rebellion against police. Last year, 51 years after the initial Stonewall Uprisings, NYPD antagonized and attacked peaceful LGBTQ+ protesters , hitting them with mopeds and batons, not far from Stonewall Inn. They also pepper-sprayed the group en masse.
"We are horrified and furious at the brutal police attack on peaceful marchers using pepper spray, violent shoving, and arrests," the organizers of the Queer Liberation March wrote in a statement at the time. "At the exact moment that Mayor De Blasio tweeted about honoring Stonewall and the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, the NYPD completely overreacted with unprovoked physical violence - including pepper spraying their own colleagues."
This year's Pride will be a combination of in-person and virtual events.
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