SPD barred from participating in Pride Parade, debate ensues

Seattle police will not march in Sunday’s Pride Parade after a decision from interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz, making it the first time in nearly 30 years the SPD will miss the parade.

Earlier this month, parade managers said they would not allow any officers in uniform to participate.

“Due to the history of Stonewall Sunday and the fact that Pride was birthed from a riot against police brutality, Seattle Pride will not permit police uniforms, police vehicles, any police insignia, or police propaganda to walk in any parade contingency,” The Executive Board of Seattle Pride announced.

The Stonewall Riots began June 28, 1969 and lasted for six days after New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to protests and violent clashes.

Diaz said the department made a group decision Wednesday that those conditions are not acceptable and officers will not be a part of the parade. He wrote a letter, published on the department’s blotter page, addressing SPD’s issues with this decision.

The Executive Board’s decision, described as “discriminatory, demeaning, hateful, and antiquated” by SPD Missing Persons Unit Detective Aimee LaClaire, has disappointed SPD’s more than 100 LGBTQ+ officers, commanders, and civilian personnel, many of whom have participated in past Pride parades, according to Diaz’s letter.

“That’s a big deal. Seattle has the fourth-largest Pride Parade in the country. It’s a very big festivity,” radio host Travis Mayfield said on Seattle Morning News on KIRO Newsradio. “And to me, as an openly gay man whose dad served for 40 years on the police force, I get both sides here. But if somebody is going to reach out to shake your hand, even if you have a tradition of not fully understanding each other, maybe you should shake it and see if you could understand each other.”

More than 1,300 individuals approved of a police ban when polled by Seattle Pride back in May 2021. However, Diaz did confirm uniformed officers from the SPD will staff Sunday’s parade to provide public safety.

Seattle Pride has maintained its stance, stating in a press release in response to Diaz’s letter that the “SPD ​effectively put a spotlight on the LGBTQIA+ community for those who share ideologies with hate groups, and is inviting a repeat of targeted threats and violence against ​our​ community as we prepare for our first in-person celebration in three years.”

Pride flags torn down and burned in front of Seattle restaurant

The reporting of Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents against the LGBTQ+ community continues to rise in Seattle annually, according to Diaz. In 2012, 35 such crimes were reported. In 2021, there were 147.

“I hate the over-reaching symbolism of ‘we don’t want you here because you’ve caused trauma’ and I get the trauma is real and that a lot of people have had to deal with, but it just seems ridiculous to me,” said Spike O’Neill, a guest host for the Gee and Ursula Show opposite Mayfield. “I mean, it seems like such a bad idea. Bad PR move. It’s so social posturing.”

“I understand the history of violence, I understand the trauma associated with it, I understand all of those things. But I also think at some point, you want to move beyond that. And the idea of having uniformed police officers standing up and waving pride flags and being a part of the event feels like they’re part of that want to move beyond it,” Mayfield said in response. “And, let’s be honest, pride parades take a lot of advertising dollars from a lot of companies that do a lot of ugly things behind people’s backs. It just feels like an arbitrary line in the sand to be drawing.”

This is not the first incident of police being banned from pride events. Last month, Capitol Hill Pride Fest (CHPF) directors Charlette LeFevre and Philip Lipson announced that SPD would be banned from the CHPF march and rally on June 26 and 27 at Cal Anderson Park.

Capitol Hill Pride bans police officers for 2021 march and rally this June

New York Pride banned police presence at their events until 2025.

“It’s an act of bigotry. I think that the best way to describe this, and as I spoke with some members today that identify as LGBTQ and they’re angry. They’re mad. They’re frustrated,” said Mike Solan, President of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “It’s another smack in the face of just being a human. The fact that you’re a police officer and you’re removed from your community that you identify with that is supposed to be all-inclusive. To them, it’s the most disrespectful, dishonest, and appalling human decision.”

San Francisco’s Pride March attempted to boycott police as well, but Mayor London Breed led an agreement between members of the city’s police department and representatives of the organization San Francisco Pride, the mayor said earlier this month. Breed said she would publicly boycott the event if police were banned.

“And what I saw in San Francisco was actual true leadership of somebody with conviction, standing up for what’s right and what’s decent, and what embodies inclusivity and pushes back against the fringe groups that try to malign and besmirch members of our community and police officers,” Solan said. “And I would like to see some type of leadership in the city of Seattle outside of what police officers are saying about this. Police officers are members of the community.”

Mayor Bruce Harrell has yet to comment on Seattle Pride’s decision as of publishing.

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