Metro Weekly

Mayor Condemns NYC Pride Parade’s Ban on Uniformed Police Officers

Eric Adams says ban violates officers' freedom of expression, but stops short of saying he won't march if it stays in effect.

Police officers march in the 2016 New York City Pride Parade – Photo: Steven Pisano, via Wikimedia

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has condemned NYC Pride’s policy prohibiting LGBTQ police officers from marching in uniform in its annual Pride Parade.

His office, however, has declined to say whether he’ll skip the event in protest of the policy.

“Mayor Adams supports inclusivity and allowing all New Yorkers to be true to who they are,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, told the New York Post. “Banning officers from wearing their uniforms at Pride is disappointing and contradicts our freedom of expression. That’s one of the many reasons why he has long supported and fought for LGBTQ+ officers to be able to wear their uniforms at the Pride parade. He will continue to do the same before next month’s parade.”

Despite many attempts to get him on record, Levy repeatedly refused to answer the newspaper’s questions about whether the mayor, a former NYPD officer, would boycott the Pride Parade, scheduled for June 26, if the uniform ban remains in place. 

For years, LGBTQ officers were welcomed at the Pride Parade, and members of the Gay Officers Action League, an organization advocating on behalf of LGBTQ law enforcement and public safety officers, regularly marched in uniform — as they had ever since GOAL was first founded in 1982.

However, following the nationwide protests that broke out after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, organizers of Pride events in multiple cities adopted a much more hostile stance toward police, arguing that the presence of officers in uniform was “triggering” to LGBTQ people and people of color who had experienced negative interactions with police over decades.

As a result, many Pride organizations have moved to bar officers from marching in uniform.

New York adopted its ban in 2021, prompting then-Mayor Bill de Blasio to call the decision a “mistake” and refusing to participate in the event. This year, San Francisco Mayor London Breed denounced her own city’s ban on uniformed officers and vowed not to participate as long as it remains in effect. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many NYC Pride festivities, including the parade, were switched to virtual events, although smaller-than-usual crowds of people decided to attend NYC Pride-affiliated street fairs, dance parties, and fireworks displays.

This year’s parade is expected to draw sizable crowds more in line with pre-pandemic attendance numbers.

Heritage of Pride, the organization that runs the Pride Parade, reiterated its stance on banning uniformed officers from marching in a statement.

“Beginning in 2021, NYC Pride publicly banned corrections and law enforcement exhibitors from marching in their uniforms and participating in recruitment activities at NYC Pride events until at least 2025,” the group said in a statement. “This action was a step in the path of transformative justice affirming our commitment to eliminating violence, harm, and abuse at NYC Pride events.”

Brian Downey, the president of the Gay Officers Action League, lamented the change in attitude towards police, noting that, for years, GOAL and Heritage of Pride had a great working relationship. He said the organization is in “ongoing” talks with parade organizers and that there was still a possibility of a breakthrough.

New York City Councilman David Carr (R-Staten Island), the first openly gay Republican elected to the Council, told the Post he was inclined to attend Pride, but would not if officers were blocked from fully participating.

“I think if the police are not welcome at this event, and GOAL is not welcome, then I don’t see myself participating,” he said. “I think that [Mayor Adams] supported them when he was a member of the NYPD himself and so I am hopeful he will do everything he can to advocate for their inclusion.”

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