SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- LGBTQ+ members of San Francisco's police and sheriff's departments are disappointed that parade organizers will not let law enforcement officers march in uniform at this year's pride parade.
"I would really like San Francisco Pride to embrace the values of San Francisco, the values of radical inclusion," Officer Kathryn Winters, of the SFPD Officers Pride Alliance. "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," she added.
The San Francisco Fire Department says it will stand in solidarity with uniformed law enforcement officers. They will not be marching in this year's parade either unless police are allowed to wear their uniforms.
"We need to allow the public to see that our uniformed law enforcement officers are good, they do reflect our community," said San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Jonathan Baxter.
"We want them to march in the parade," said Suzanne Ford, executive director of San Francisco Pride.
"They can march in matching t-shirts that say SF police, or SF County Sheriff's Department, that's fine, but no full uniform," said Ford.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed also announced Monday that she will not be walking in the Pride Parade unless the board reverses its decision. Her statement read, in part:
"I love the Pride Parade, and what it means for our LGBTQ community and for our city. 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 controversy over uniforms began in 2019. That's when protestors blocked the parade route on Market Street.
"We were just trying to deescalate with them, there was unrest and the police came in and made arrests, and a couple of members of our community were injured," said Ford.
The leaders of SF Pride reacted by creating the new policy. It follows the lead of other major cities around the country that have either limited or banned officers from participating in the annual LGBTQ+ celebration. New York City has banned officers from participating in its parade altogether.
Ford says the decision was made to respect the broader community, particularly people of color who don't always have positive opinions or interactions with 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," said Ford.
Law enforcement says it, too, wants to make people feel safe and accepted.
"Over the years it has been the LGBTQ officers who have really driven reform, improvements, and diversity measures within the department that have made policing better," said Winters.
The annual San Francisco Pride Parade will be held on June 26, 2022. It will be the first in-person parade since 2019.
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