Seattle police, Pride organizers clash over banning officers at parade

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The Seattle Police Department (SPD) published a personal message to Seattle Pride Parade organizers who voted to exclude law enforcement from the annual event.

The Pride Parade previously announced members of law enforcement in uniform would not be allowed to participate in the festivities, citing historic conflict between the LGBT community and the police.

SPD Chief Adrian Diaz penned the letter Wednesday, decrying the exclusion of his department and arguing that many members of the police in Seattle are proud members of the LGBT community and deserve a spot in the parade.

“The executive board’s decision … has been met with sadness by SPD’s more than 100 LGBTQIA+ officers, commanders and civilians, many of whom proudly walked in the parade annually with colleagues, family and friends,” Diaz wrote. “The executive board’s decision is especially hurtful because other city workers will be allowed to participate in uniforms or insignia that identify their department, but not SPD. ”

Scenes from the 45th annual Seattle Pride Parade June, 30, 2019. 

Scenes from the 45th annual Seattle Pride Parade June, 30, 2019. 
(Genna Martin/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR LONDON BREED, POLICE GROUPS OPT OUT OF PRIDE PARADE OVER UNIFORM BAN

Diaz pointed to the SPD’s long tradition of participating in the Pride Parade, extending back almost two decades.

“The Seattle Pride Parade draws thousands of people together to celebrate our region’s vibrant and thriving LGBTQIA+ community. Since 1994, the Seattle Police Department’s LGBTQIA+ sworn officers and civilian employees have proudly marched in the parade — in their SPD uniforms and insignia — to celebrate their personal and professional selves,” the letter continued.

According to the letter, Seattle Police Department officers will be present along the parade route, dressed in uniform and positioned to ensure safety. However, members of the department will respect the parade organizers’ request and will not participate in uniform.

Scenes from the 45th annual Seattle Pride Parade June, 30, 2019. 

Scenes from the 45th annual Seattle Pride Parade June, 30, 2019. 
(Genna Martin/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Diaz concluded by urging the organizers to reconsider and requesting they allow police to participate “without judgement or discrimination.”

“The Seattle Police Department celebrates the diversity of all its employees, including its many LGBTQIA+ officers, commanders and civilians,” Diaz wrote. “SPD celebrates the diversity of Seattle and the yearly festival organized by Seattle Pride and hopes its executive board will again welcome SPD employees for the totality of who they are without judgement or discrimination. 

“To that end, SPD’s LGBTQIA+ employees are open to participate in any conversations necessary to move the department’s relationship with the Seattle Pride Executive Board towards a more inclusive space that welcomes the equitable participation of all.”

Scenes from the 45th annual Seattle Pride Parade June, 30, 2019. 

Scenes from the 45th annual Seattle Pride Parade June, 30, 2019. 
(Genna Martin/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

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Seattle is not the only U.S. city struggling to mesh LGBT events with a cohesive stance against law enforcement.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and local law enforcement groups have opted not to march in the upcoming Pride Parade over a ban that prohibits law enforcement officers from wearing uniforms. 

“I love the Pride Parade and what it means for our LGBTQ community and for our city,” Breed said in a statement to Fox San Francisco. “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.”

The San Francisco Police Officers’ Pride Alliance also said its members would not participate in the parade, one of the city’s marquee events. The group said it felt like officers were being forced to go back into the closet by not being allowed to proudly wear their uniforms. 

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