Ill. mayor 'extremely disappointed' in ban of uniformed officers at Pride parade
Mayor Richard Irvin strongly urged parade officials to reconsider their decision
By Steve Lord
AURORA, Ill. — Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin took organizers of the Aurora Pride Parade to task Wednesday for their decision to ban uniformed police officers from marching in the parade next month.
Irvin said he was "extremely distressed and disappointed to learn that you have chosen to ban uniformed law enforcement from participating in the annual Pride Parade this year."
Irvin advocated for the city's first Pride Parade in 2018, and oversaw the City Council's approval of the permit, he said.
In that first parade and in the second one in 2019, gay police officers marched, some in uniform, with a banner. In 2018, one of those marching was then-Police Chief Kristen Ziman.
The parade has not taken place since 2019, due to the pandemic. Last year, organizers held Aurora Pride activities downtown, without a parade.
For this year's parade, planned for June 12 during Pride Month nationally, Aurora Pride, the organizer of the event, said uniformed police would not be allowed to march.
The organization wrote in a statement released Tuesday that since 2018 and 2019, "the climate has shifted."
"Relationships between police and community members are more strained than they were three years ago, in Aurora and nationwide," the statement said.
Irvin in his statement Wednesday called it "baffling how what is supposed to be an event focused on and celebrating equity, diversity and inclusion is now choosing to exclude others, specifically, the law enforcement officers who have supported the Pride Parade since its inception and who work so diligently to maintain safety and order at the event."
Immediate attempts to reach Aurora Pride officials for comment were unsuccessful.
Aurora Pride's statement makes reference to incidents of harassment and violence, mainly against people of color and LGBTQ people, by "a minority of police officers" that are not being addressed in general across the nation.
"A lack of trust in the people sworn to protect breeds fear, and we feel that we must stand with those in our community who've been victimized," the statement said.
Irvin said the Aurora Police Department has worked hard to reduce crime overall in the city, and make it "a safer city for all our businesses and residents so we can host events like the Pride Parade."
"To now exclude them is disheartening, offensive and unacceptable," he said.
Irvin said in his statement that he strongly urges parade officials to reconsider their decision, and advise the mayor's office "on how you plan to proceed by the close of business on Thursday."
(c)2022 The Beacon-News (Aurora, Ill.)