Police will be banned from participating in New York City Pride events, as organizers say they are seeking to “create safer spaces” for “marginalized groups.”
Under the new policy, announced Saturday by NYC Pride, corrections and law enforcement exhibitors will not be allowed to march in the parade or participate in other events for at least five years.
Coordinators of the world’s largest gay pride celebration also said they would take steps to reduce NYPD presence at events, by hiring private security and first responders.
“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,” organizers said in a press release.
“NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community.”
Millions of members of the LGBT community flock to the city in June for the world’s landmark gay rights celebration.
The event began in 1970, to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising a year before, when patrons of a Greenwich Village gay bar rioted against NYPD officers, who were conducting a raid of the then-illegal establishment.
The recent nationwide reckoning of police violence inspired Heritage of Pride, the group that produces the event, to reexamine its relationship with the police — who were previously invited to march in the parade as it became more mainstream.
“This announcement follows many months of conversation and discussion with key stakeholders in the community,” said NYC Pride Co-Chair André Thomas.
NYPD officers in the Gay Officers Action League were “disheartened” by the move, the organization said in a press release Saturday evening.
“GOAL and our members have had our hands in every police reform and policy revision touching on the LGBTQIA+ community in New York City,” the group said.
“For nearly 30 years, GOAL has provided LGBTQIA+ training for every new NYPD recruit at the academy, educating future officers on the unique challenges facing our community. We also serve as victim advocates for those in our community that have needed to navigate the criminal justice system.”
GOAL said it will continue its advocacy on behalf of the community, despite the move to ban them Pride events.
Momentum for the ban had been growing in recent years. In 2019, activists planned an alternative Pride parade in New York that excluded cops. Festivities were canceled last year over coronavirus concerns.
“The NYPD is just as bad as it ever was, even if it’s better for some of its employees on the inside,” Reclaim Pride Coalition co-founder Natalie James said at the time. “So to me that means the NYPD should not be recognized at Pride.”
In 2017, Pride Toronto banned cops from marching in its parade, after lobbying by Black Lives Matter protestors, according to The Daily Hive.
The NYPD’s GOAL organization reportedly invited Toronto law enforcement to march side by side with them in the Manhattan parade.
In 2025, NYC Pride will review its police participation ban, NYC Pride said. Until then, the NYPD will “provide first response and security only when absolutely necessary as mandated by city officials,” organizers said.