San Francisco mayor refuses to march in Pride parade over ban on uniformed police

Democratic mayor of San Fransisco London Breed is refusing to march in the city’s annual Pride parade unless its organisers reverse a ban on uniformed police officers.

Breed condemned the ban on uniformed cops marching in the parade, which San Fransisco Pride said was due to “safety concerns” for marginalised groups within the LGBTQ+ community.

Officers are still able to participate in the march wearing t-shirts or other clothes denoting their role, but not in uniform. The ban also extends to sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement, but not firefighters.

Breed said she was boycotting the Pride parade to “support those members of the LGBTQ community who serve in uniform”.

“One of the central planks of the movement for better policing is a demand that the people who serve in uniform better represent the communities they are policing,” Breed said.

“We can’t say, ‘we want more Black officers,’ or ‘we want more LGBTQ+ officers,’ and then treat those officers with disrespect when they actually step up and serve.”

San Francisco Pride organisers tried to introduce the ban in 2020, amid protests for racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The 2020 pride was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Francisco Pride interim president Suzanne Ford responded in a statement on Monday (23 May), saying that discussions between the groups had “not come to a solution that is mutually beneficial.”

“SF Pride remains committed to practising radical inclusions, practising harm reduction in our space, and supporting those who are marginalised within our community,” the statement read.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the steps that have been taken to heal decades of distrust between law enforcement agencies and the LGBTQ+ communities.”

This isn’t the only city to enact a similar ban, with Toronto’s 2017 Pride banning uniformed officers from participating in the march due to concerns of “racial injustice” raised by the Black Lives Matter Toronto chapter.

Vancouver’s Pride parade would later follow a similar strategy in 2020.

The 39th Annual Toronto Pride Parade on Sunday June 23, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance also criticised the measure, saying in a statement that “the board decided to punish LGBTQ+ peace officers for the failings of others”.

“This is its own form of prejudice and further erodes the tenuous relationship between peace officers and the communities we keep safe. 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,” the statement continued.

San Francisco’s Pride will take place on June 26 as usual, with SF Pride adding: “We look forward to working with Pride organisations and law enforcement agencies from around the world in finding a solution that is satisfactory to all.”