San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Monday that she will join local firefighters and the police in withdrawing plans to march in this year’s 52nd Annual LGBT Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26, after organizers banned police from wearing uniforms that some see as a symbol of harassment toward vulnerable groups.
Breed said she will join the parade, which she called one of her favorite events, only if the Board of Directors of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration reverses its decision.
“One of the central planks of the movement for better policing is a demand that the people who serve in uniform better represent the communities they are policing,” the mayor said in a statement. “We can’t say, we want more Black officers, or we want more LGBTQ officers, and then treat those officers with disrespect when they actually step up and serve.
The board of directors voted to ban uniforms at its May meeting, stepping in line with many parades in other cities, such as Portland and New York, that have introduced similar policies.
Suzanne Ford, executive director of San Francisco Pride, told SFGATE that police are invited to march in T-shirts or polos that identify them by their department.
“This was an independent decision, but almost every major city with a pride parade in the United States is dealing with this issue,” Ford said. “San Francisco was really late. It was trying to find a solution to be inclusive of the police.”
The San Francisco police and fire departments take part in the parade annually, with most of the participants identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community. In a statement announcing the decision to withdraw, the departments said the ban on uniforms was a reminder of a time when officers and firefighters had to hide that they were LGBTQ+.
“Now they ask us to hide the fact of where we work,” reads a statement from the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance and the LGBTQ+ members of the SF Sheriff’s Office and the SF Fire Department.
“This is its own form of prejudice and further erodes the tenuous relationship between peace officers and the communities we keep safe,” the statement continues. “This decision ignored the history and accomplishments of LGBTQ+ peace officers, who made the SFPD and the SFSO more inclusive through their bravery and visibility. These officers have saved lives, made the city safer, and helped establish that in San Francisco, a member of the LGBTQ+ peace officer could serve the city in uniform with pride.”