PHOENIX - Phoenix Pride will no longer allow police and other law enforcement agencies to participate in their parade or festival this year, event organizers announced on July 8.
Organizers said the change is part of a series of revisions to Phoenix Pride's policies regarding police participation in the event.
"Under the new policies, police and other law enforcement agencies will no longer have participating contingents in the Phoenix Pride Parade or booths/displays at the Phoenix Pride Festival," read their statement on Instagram.
The organization asked that police officers wanting to participate come as "private individuals" without their gun, badge or any other identifying gear present, and that unarmed, non-uniformed police manage street closures around the parade.
"In addition, we are going to be contracting the mandatory minimum number of off-duty officers, as required by our permit contract with the city to be on hand for the Phoenix Pride Festival," said Jeremy Helfgot with Phoenix Pride.
The decision came after Phoenix Pride met with community leaders and organizations who Helfgot said is working towards social justice and equality.
"We’re living through the social strife of the moment as well, but Phoenix Pride has made a clear in an ongoing proclamation that Black lives matter, that we stand with our community, and that we will continue to reflect our community through our mission and how we execute it," said Helfgot.
Phoenix Pride, which is planned for November 7 and 8 for 2020, will be held at Steele Indian School Park. The event was delayed to November from its originally scheduled date in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Phoenix Pride website, Pride Parades are traditionally held during the month of June to commemorate an LGBTQ+ rights protest that happened in June 1969. Phoenix Pride officials say they hold their annual event outside of the traditional June time period due to heat-related reasons.
Decision comes after PUHSD announced it will ditch School Resource Officers
This announcement by Phoenix Pride officials came a day after the Phoenix Union High School District announced they will not renew their annual agreement with the City of Phoenix for school resource officers.
"As the district responsibly yet courageously addresses two pandemics, racism and COVID-19, [Superintendent] Dr. [Chad] Gestson said that this is the right time for PXU to revisit and even rethink school safety," read a portion of a statement released on July 7.
In the same statement, school district officials say the 2020-2021 school year will see even more campus closures and remote learning, and as a result, there will be a reduced need for day-to-day school safety measures, including the use of law enforcement.
"Phoenix Union will use off-duty officers, as and when needed, to assist with required law enforcement notifications, campus and community safety needs, and other mandatory reporting issues. Officers will be assigned to the district, not to schools," read a portion of a statement.
PLEA officials respond to Phoenix Pride's decision
In a statement released on the afternoon of July 8, Britt London responded to Phoenix Pride's decision.
"It is unfortunate Phoenix Pride has made the decision to prohibit police and other law enforcement agencies from participating in the parade or having displays at the Phoenix Pride Festival. Participating in public events is vital in building community relationships and trust. In addition, our role as police officers is to ensure the safety of the attendees. Prohibiting the use of police vehicles and mandating unarmed, non-uniform police manage street closures, limits our ability to properly respond to emergencies. Now more than ever, we need to come together as a community--not create further divisions."
Police participation in pride parades a source of controversy
In recent years, police participation in pride parades have been controversial.
In 2017, Canadian public broadcaster CBC reported that Vancouver police officers would be allowed to take part in Vancouver's pride parade that year, so long as they march along with the City of Vancouver as a civil entry.
In 2018, the Associated Press reported that pushback from the LGBT community in Madison, Wisconsin led to organizers of the pride parade there to rescind parade applications from three law enforcement agencies in the area.
In 2019, CBC reported that organizers of Toronto's pride parade voted against allowing that city's police to take part in the annual pride parade.
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