NYPD Officers Banned From Joining New York City Pride Parade

The New York Police Department Officers Action League president was disheartened by the New York City Pride Parade’s decision to ban law enforcement from the festivities. 

In a statement last Friday, Detective Brian Downey said, “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.” He added, “it was “demoralizing” that the event’s organizers didn’t refer to the league by name in its announcement, “referring to us only as ‘Law Enforcement Exhibitors.’ The label is not only offensive but dehumanizing for our members.”

A spokesperson from the NYPD also agreed that the decision was “disheartening.”

Detective Sophia Mason added that the idea of officers being excluded is disheartening and runs counter to their shared values of inclusion and tolerance. Mason added, “That said, we’ll still be there to ensure traffic safety and good order during this huge, complex event.”

Michele Fitzsimmons, FireFLAG President and FDNY Battalion Chief, also slammed the decision stating that they are “misguided and called for its reversal. 

According to the organizers of the annual parade, the ban would continue until 2025 because they wanted “safer spaces” for the people of color and for the LGBTQ community who feel threatened by police. 

Heritage of Pride who organizes the annual parade is also working to decrease the presence of on-duty New York Police Department Officers and first responders by keeping law-enforcement away from any NYC Pride event by “one city block.”

“Gay Pride Parade New York City 2011” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Diana Beato

The group said in a statement, “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.”

Moreover, the NYC Pride also added that traditional police units would only be summoned when “absolutely necessary” as mandated by city officials. 

Meanwhile, Downey told The New York Post that the decision to ban police officers was “poorly made” and “the execution was even poorer.”

He added that, although he understands some distrust of police from the community, his group has been trying to “build bridges.”

GOAL President Brian Downey also added, “Heritage of Pride is well aware that the city would not allow a largescale 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.”

The Pride festival will be mostly online this June because of the pandemic but will have some in-person components.