Mayor London Breed, the SF Police Officers Association, and the SF Fire Department all say they’ll refuse to appear in the SF Pride Parade, in response to a 2020 decision that barred police from marching in uniform at the event.
Update (5/23, 1:30 p.m.): The Chronicle is now reporting that Mayor London Breed announced she’s pulling out of the SF Pride Parade over the ban on uniformed officers marching. “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,” Breed said in a statement.
Breed’s new appointed District 6 supervisor, openly gay Matt Dorsey, also said in a statement sent to SFist that “Dorsey has committed to join LGBTQ+ and allied first responders in sitting out this year’s parade in solidarity, so long as the exclusionary policy remains in effect.“ (Dorsey was most recently the SFPD’s Director of Strategic Communications, so not a huge surprise there.)
And SF Pride is now indicating they may try to work out some sort of compromise deal with the police. “We are disappointed in Mayor Breed’s decision, but look forward to working with her and law enforcement agencies in finding a solution that is satisfactory to all,” SF Pride interim executive director Suzanne Ford said in a statement to the Chronicle.
We are less than ten days away from June 1, the beginning of Pride Month, and this year’s SF Pride drama is officially underway.
Since we have not held a proper Pride with the full parade and everything since 2019, it’s received relatively little notice that SF Pride decided in the George Floyd aftermath of 2020 to not allow uniformed police to march in the parade. (On-duty officers will still be wearing uniforms.) And now that the 2022 SF Pride celebration is returning in full swing, the SF Police Officers Association is making a big stink about that. KGO reports that the association said in a release that SFPD officers and sheriff’s deputies will refuse to march in the SF Pride Parade, and KRON4 adds that SF firefighters will also boycott in solidarity.
You can read the full police officers’ announcement online, which was sent out at 8 a.m. Monday. “The board of SF Pride offered only one option: that LGBTQ+ peace officers hang up their uniforms, put them back in the closet, and march in civilian attire,” the release says. “The San Francisco Pride Committee has asked the LGBTQ+ peace officers to go back in the closet.”
If you find that an interesting use of the “closet” analogy, they are only getting stretched with the interesting analogies.
“Let us be clear: this committee would not order the leather community to wear polyester at the parade. This committee would not order the drag community to wear flannel,” the release continues. “But they have told us, peace officers, that if we wear our uniforms, we may not attend.”
At the end of the release, they indicate they are looking for a public reversal. “We are hopeful that the SF Pride committee will reverse its decision and allow the LGBTQ+ and ally members of the San Francisco public safety agencies to proudly march in uniform with our community in the San Francisco Pride Parade,” they say in closing.
SF Pride’s current interim director Suzanne Ford responds to the Chronicle that they are not barring any people, just full uniforms for off-duty officers. “We didn’t ask anyone to hide, or not to denote who they were,” Ford told the Chronicle. “We just did not want full uniforms, out of harm reduction to marginalized members of our community. She added that “there is no equivalence” with the closet, leather community, and drag community comparisons.
"We want them to march in the parade," Ford said, in comments to ABC 7."They can march in matching t-shirts that say SF police, or SF County Sheriff's Department, that's fine, but no full uniform."
The SF Police Officers Association has never been known to accept a boundary without a tantrum. And while that boundary was set after the George Floyd unrest, there was already tension from a 2019 Pride Parade protest regarding police presence halted the parade for an hour. SF Pride asked for the charges against those protesters to be dropped (which Boudin did), police remain fuming over the anti-cop sentiment the last two informal, unofficial Pride marches and observations.
This is not just a San Francisco controversy — New York had the exact same controversy last year, and the New York Pride organization has banned cops from the parade altogether. But this is going to play out publicly, which is clearly the Police Officers Association's desire, and we haven't even gotten started with protests over tech companies at Pride, which are surely coming as well.