LGBTQ+ officers from San Francisco’s police and sheriff’s departments say they’ll boycott this year’s Pride parade because they won’t be allowed to march in uniform, and Mayor London Breed says she won’t march either.
“I would really like San Francisco Pride to embrace the values of San Francisco, the values of radical inclusion,” Officer Kathryn Winters of the San Francisco Police Department Officers Pride Alliance told TV station KGO. “We want to be able to show the members of our community that there are people just like you who put on these uniforms every day and are out there to support, help, and protect you.”
But Pride organizers say they put the restriction on uniforms in the parade because some in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly people of color, don’t feel supported and protected by police. “For some members of our community, the presence of the police in the parade is difficult for them given their history with the police department, so we want to honor and make sure we protect and make people feel safe,” Suzanne Ford, executive director of San Francisco Pride, told KGO.
Law enforcement officers are welcome to march out of uniform, she added. “They can march in matching T-shirts that say S.F. Police or S.F. County Sheriff’s Department, that’s fine, but no full uniform,” she said.
The policy is similar to that in many other major cities in the wake of protests against police presence in Pride parades; protesters blocked the San Francisco parade for a time in 2019, the last time it was held in person. Several cities have barred police from marching in uniform of, like New York City, barred them from participating altogether.
Members of the San Francisco Fire Department said they will boycott the parade too in a show of solidarity with police. And Mayor Breed released a statement saying she won’t participate either.
“I love the Pride Parade, and what it means for our LGBTQ community and for our city,” the statement reads in part, according to KGO. “It’s one of my favorite events of the year. However, if the Pride Board does not reverse its decision, I will join our city public safety departments that are not participating in the Pride Parade. I’ve made this very hard decision in order to support those members of the LGBTQ community who serve in uniform, in our Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, who have been told they cannot march in uniform, and in support of the members of the Fire Department who are refusing to march out of solidarity with their public safety partners.”
The parade will be held June 26.