NYC Pride is for LGBTQ+ officers too


debsaslaw, CC BY 2.0 | Wikimedia Commons

M’Niyah Lynn

Members of the LGBTQ+ and their allies are excited to return to an in-person celebration for Pride, following the virtual celebration that took place last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, organizers of New York City Pride have decided to ban the New York City Police Department from marching in the annual parade until 2025. Since Pride represents uplifting voices and celebrating LGBTQ+ culture and rights, police officers should be allowed to participate in the parade.

“Our annual work to ensure a safe, enjoyable Pride season has been increasingly embraced by its participants. The idea of officers being excluded is disheartening and runs counter to our shared values of inclusion and tolerance,” Detective Denise Moroney said, according to CNN.

Pride marches began a year after the uprising in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, in response to a police raid, according to The Guardian.

Banning LGBTQ+ officers and law enforcement from being in the march is essentially asking them to choose which part of their identity means more to them — their job or sexuality. This isn’t fair considering members of the LGBTQ+ community were accepted through policies such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the U.S. military.

In this policy, gay people in the military could not disclose their sexual orientation and their commanding officers weren’t allowed to ask them about it. If gay activists have this history of advocating for respect and reform, which helped them gain acceptance, then it seems hypocritical to suppress LGBTQ+ officers from expressing who they are.

Additionally, the NYPD has made an effort to acknowledge their mistreatment of members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color and is working to implement changes in areas like their practices.

For instance, the Gay Officers Action League, which has provided LGBTQ+ training for new NYPD academy recruits for about 30 years, said in a statement they felt insulted by the ban because their contributions have “served as a model for police departments pursuing their own LGBTQIA+ programs.”

Former NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill also apologized for the actions the NYPD took during the Stonewall Inn raid.

“The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize,” O’Neill said, according to Gothamist.

In response to his apology, James Fallarino, the media director for NYC Pride, said it was a good step forward in addressing police violence against the community.

The NYPD has to protect New Yorkers, therefore, keeping officers distant creates a safety concern.

According to Gothamist, the Pride Parade drew an estimated 4 million participants and spectators in 2019, so if crowds are expected to be in-person again and COVID-19 restrictions are easing, officers know how to handle big events better than the community-based security and first responders that Heritage of Pride, which plans the city’s Pride events, wants.

To resolve this, officers can at least remain a block away from the parade or they can limit how many officers can participate. This may be a compromise for those who desire the safety and protection of the NYPD and for those that feel that law enforcement acts aggressively toward people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.

As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn’t support the ban, he agrees that the NYPD needs to be involved.

“We have to keep people safe and it’s been an incredibly safe, positive event and we have to be mindful of continuing that,” he said.

Hate crime complaints have decreased, according to the NYPD. This may be because of the police doing their job. In 2019, there were 420 complaints, whereas, in 2020, there were 25.

On the other hand, the controversy surrounding the police ban highlights the lack of trust people have in the NYPD because of its past. During the George Floyd protests last summer, many experienced and witnessed racial injustice and police brutality.

“There’s always been aggression by law enforcement and it’s been an issue in the community for years,” Dan Dimant, spokesperson for Heritage of Pride, said.

Nonetheless, the LGBTQ+ community has been the target of violence by the police, but not every police officer should be punished for the acts of a few. If this community wants to promote acceptance and inclusivity, allowing people to express themselves is a sure way of doing that.