TW: MENTIONS OF POLICE BRUTALITY AND DEATH.
On Friday, May 15th, New York City Pride announced that they are banning law enforcement and NYPD from marching in their pride parade, until at least 2025. With a history of violence against members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as well as the rise in police violence against the BIPOC community, NYC Pride wishes for the NYPD to take ownership of the harm they have caused. Their official statement says that “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.”
Since the release of this information, there have been mixed feelings about the decision. The police ban is leaving many with questions; what does this mean for the protection of those who attend these parades?
How did NYC Pride come to this decision?
The decision to ban NYPD and other law enforcement was taken in order to keep the space a safe one for all members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. In light of the rise in police violence against marginalized groups, this step was taken to ensure that everyone could attend Pride in New York and feel safe during the parade as well as other NYC Pride events. NYC Pride mentioned the police presence, especially in the past year has often felt dangerous to those who march in the parade and did not want to contribute to that feeling of being unsafe. NYC Pride worked alongside the Anti-Violence Project during the many months that they deliberated this decision, as well as having important conversations with “key stakeholders in the community”
Some History of Pride in New York
After a series of police raids on gay bars in and around the Greenwich Village area, on June 28, 1969, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community fought back during what we know now as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion. This event alone holds importance as one of the leading events of the gay liberation movement. Many refer to this movement when talking about the beginning of the fight for equal rights of members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
Police Violence Against the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community
The police violence has been an ongoing topic during the last year, as events of police harm have continued to rise around the U.S. The move to ban police from events like pride is one to support dismantling the current system that is in place, which continues to harbor violence and negativity towards marginalized groups such as members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and those of the BIPOC community as well. Not only do these marginalized people experience violence and harm at disproportionate rates, but often do not hold enough trust in the justice system, officers, and other members of law enforcement to protect them against acts of hate.
The decision to ban police presence during the parades is one that acknowledges the harm that police have caused against the community and further upholds the fact that many police forces, the NYPD in particular, have not had a good relationship with marginalized people, especially the 2SLGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities. These police forces have continued to use their power to harm those groups, with statistics showing that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people experience incarceration at rates three times higher than straight people do. Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are also disproportionally affected by police harm. Last June, Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polcano, a 27-year-old trans woman died in Rikers Island after suffering from three seizures with no medical care provided, while NYC officers laughed outside of her cell.
You can read more about Layleen’s story here.
What does this mean for the safety of those who attend Pride?
NYC Pride noted in their statement that all aspects of first response, as well as security issues, will be dealt with by private, trained security as well as volunteers. They plan to increase their budget regarding security and safety and to train these individuals with de-escalation techniques, avoiding first response from the NYPD and using it only when absolutely necessary. The decision comes after months of discussion and with the goal to keep anyone who attends an NYC Pride event as safe as possible.
What about NYPD officers who are also part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community?
After the official statement was made, a prominent group called The Gay Officers Action League said that the decision “to placate some of the activists in their community is shameful” with many other NYPD officers expressing feelings of disheartenment. The NYPD released its own statement of disapproval as well.
It is important to remember that the actions of police brutality against the BIPOC and 2SLGBTQIA+ community, especially the many important people we have lost because of the actions of the police have deeply affected how people react to police presence. Everyone is entitled to safety at an event like Pride, individuals have fought for us to be able to freely and safely be ourselves at all times, and Pride is a celebration and acknowledgment of that. We must remember that police are in place for protection, and much of their work in the past year that we’ve seen not just in the U.S. but on a global scale has revealed how dire the situation really is and that change is needed. NYC Pride wishes to foster an inclusive and safe community with this decision.