San Francisco Mayor London Breed, police and other first responders say they will not attend San Francisco's upcoming pride parade because organizers barred LGBT officers from marching in uniform, prompting concerns about solidarity and inclusion at the event.
San Francisco Pride is a nonprofit organization that organizes the annual San Francisco pride celebration and parade at the end of June, which LGBT activists recognize as "pride month."
The June 26 event is reportedly one of the largest LGBT community gatherings in the United States, welcoming nearly 1 million attendees in a typical year.
In a statement released Monday, the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance, along with LGBT members of the San Francisco Sheriff's Office and the San Francisco Fire Department, announced that they will not be marching in the parade unless the San Francisco Pride board reverses its decision "not allow uniformed LGBTQ+ members of police agencies to march in this year's SF Pride celebration."
"[T]he board of SF Pride offered only one option: that the LGBTQ+ peace officers hang up their uniforms, put them back in the closet, and march in civilian attire," the statement reads.
The decision to ban uniformed LGBT police officers from marching in the parade followed the nationwide outrage over the death of unarmed African American George Floyd in police custody in 2020.
The push to ban law enforcement officials from marching in uniform at the parade stems from an incident at the 2019 parade, where a group of demonstrators "peacefully disrupted the Parade for several minutes." San Francisco Pride alleges that "several officers of the San Francisco Police Department unexpectedly and rashly overreacted to the disruption, swarming the area and leading to a larger scuffle."
In a statement published by KGO-TV, Breed revealed she is skipping the parade.
"I love the Pride Parade, and what it means for our LGBTQ community and for our city. It's one of my favorite events of the year. However, if the Pride Board does not reverse its decision, I will join our city public safety departments that are not participating in the Pride Parade," Breed said.
"I've made this very hard decision in order to support those members of the LGBTQ community who serve in uniform, in our Police Department and Sheriff's Department, who have been told they cannot march in uniform, and in support of the members of the Fire Department who are refusing to march out of solidarity with their public safety partners."
The San Franciso Police Department, the San Francisco Mayor's Office and San Francisco Pride did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.
Officer Kathryn Winters of the SFPD Officers Pride Alliance called for San Francisco Pride to "embrace the values of San Francisco, the values of radical inclusion."
"We want to be able to show the members of our community that there are people just like you who put on these uniforms every day and are out there to support, help, and protect you," Winters told KGO-TV.
Suzanne Ford, interim executive director of San Francisco Pride, told the Bay Area Reporter that the organization does want LGBT police officers to march in the parade, just not in uniform.
"This is not a ban; this is merely an invitation to participate with a condition attached," she said.
Ford insisted that law enforcement can wear shirts that identify themselves as police officers but cautioned that uniforms could make people feel unsafe.
The 2022 pride parade marks the first time the event has been held in person since the coronavirus pandemic, making it the first to occur with the new policy in effect.
"Let us be clear: this committee would not order the leather community to wear polyester at the parade," the public safety officials maintained in their joint statement. "But they have told us, peace officers, that if we wear our uniforms, we may not attend. For LGBTQ+ officers, this brings us back to a time when we had to hide at work that we were LGBTQ+. Now they ask us to hide the fact of where we work."