Capital Pride Parade – Photo: Metro Weekly
With his last act as he resigns from office, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) introduced a bill to reimburse the Capital Pride Alliance for costs related to the Capital Pride Parade and Capital Pride Festival.
In 2019, the total cost of hiring emergency services, protection, government services, and obtaining proper permits for the Capital Pride Parade and Festival was over $300,000, and the cost of city services for other Pride-related events over the past three years has surpassed $100,000.
To help defray those costs, Evans’ bill would create a $400,000 grant to be used for expenses related to the cost of the 2020 Capital Pride celebration and related events.
The bill will also waive all city service fees to the Capital Pride Alliance beginning in fiscal year 2021 and each year thereafter.
Evans, a longtime LGBTQ ally over his nearly three decades in office, justifies waiving the fees by noting that Capital Pride festivities draw hundreds of thousands of people to Washington, D.C. each year.
Those people then support the local economy by purchasing goods and services, plus sales tax, which results in an influx of cash into the city’s coffers.
“The Pride Parade is when the District proudly and loudly celebrates the diversity and inclusivity of our city and residents,” Evans said in a statement. “The future of the parade and the weeklong Capital Pride Celebration, much of which is free and accessible to the public, should not be burdened because of fees of government services for the event. Having first responders and city services are a critical component of any large event as we witnessed during the 2019 Pride Parade.”
Last year, the Capital Pride Parade was disrupted after a man with a BB gun create and panic, prompting parade spectators and participants to stampede away from Dupont Circle in the ensuing chaos, leaving several people injured — and incurring additional costs that were billed to Capital Pride.
“We appreciate everything emergency services [Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department] do for the City to keep us safe,” Evans said. “However, the First Amendment rights and safety of residents should not be hindered because of a costly price tag. Constitutional protections, public safety, and other services should be the responsibility of the government.”
Jack Evans – Photo: Facebook.
As a result, the bill will forgive the remaining MPD invoice of more than $121,000 for the 2019 parade and festival, and will refund any payments or fees footed by Capital Pride to cover those costs.
With Evans leaving office, it will be left up to the remaining 12 members of the Council, plus Mayor Muriel Bowser, to ensure whether the bill is passed.
Ashley Smith, the Capital Pride Alliance Board President, expressed gratitude at the bill’s introduction and called for councilmembers to approve it.
“Capital Pride appreciates the assistance that we receive from the city and the support of Councilmember Jack Evans,” Smith said in a statement. “Escalating municipal fees make it challenging to raise sufficient funds to cover both these expanding costs and provide a variety of free and low-cost services to the LGBTQ+ community.”
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