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Seattle Pride Parade bans uniformed police from marching, again

Last year, SPD Chief Diaz announced officers would not march in the parade at all, publishing a letter expressing frustration with Seattle Pride’s decision


Opponents say LGBTQ+ police officers marching in uniform reflect progress.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks
The Seattle Times

SEATTLE —The Seattle Pride Parade said it is banning police officers from marching in uniform in the parade, re-upping a policy first introduced last year.

Officers from Seattle and other jurisdictions can march in the parade out of uniform, organizers said, and there will be uniformed Seattle police officers at the parade for safety reasons, as required by a city permit.

The decision to bar officers from marching in uniform last year raised fraught questions over identity, inclusion and the frayed relationship between law enforcement and LGBTQ+ community.

Supporters of the ban argued that law enforcement, even those who identify as LGBTQ+, should not be visibly present at an event with origins linked to the Stonewall Riots in 1969, sparked by a police raid at a gay club. But opponents say LGBTQ+ police officers marching in uniform reflect progress made in diversifying the rank and file of the Seattle Police Department.

The organization remains “in close contact” with the Police Department, and will monitor and adjust safety plans as needed ahead of the parade, Seattle Pride interim Executive Director Noah Wagoner said in a statement.

The Seattle Pride Parade’s board of directors instituted a policy last year based on feedback from a community survey, “as well as the queer community’s long history of distrust of law enforcement, criminalization of LGBTQIA+ people, and police violence against marginalized groups — the genesis of the Pride movement,” Wagoner said.

Pride parades around the United States are held on the last Sunday in June in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots, which fanned the flames of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

It’s unclear whether officers will march out of uniform at this year’s parade. In an email, a spokesperson said the Seattle Police Department is “not commenting on this matter at this time.”

Last year, SPD Chief Adrian Diaz announced officers would not march in the parade at all, publishing an open letter expressing frustration with Seattle Pride’s decision. Since 1994, Seattle Police Department employees have marched in the parade with uniforms and insignia “to celebrate their personal and professional selves,” he wrote.

“They’ve marched, while acknowledging the pain the policing profession has inflicted on the LGBTQIA+ community in the past, and that all law enforcement can do better, including SPD,” Diaz wrote, noting the department has more than 100 LGBTQIA+ officers, commanders and civilian employees, out of a total of about 1,800 staffers.

The department argued Seattle Pride’s decision last year threatened progress made to diversify the police force. Critics raised concerns that continued distrust in law enforcement could mean some LGTBQ+ individuals may be less likely to report being victims of hate crimes. Officers likened the policy to forcing them “back in the closet,” Diaz wrote.

In a statement Friday, Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan said the banning of uniformed officers from marching at Pride events “is disgusting, bigoted, discriminatory and contradicts our community’s beautiful inclusive LGBTQ message.”

“SPOG members took an oath to serve our entire community equally and without discrimination,” Solan said in a statement. “It’s a shame to see that the commitment to equality and inclusion doesn’t flow in both directions.”

Capitol Hill Pride, a separate organization that will host a march and rally the day before Seattle Pride at the Seattle Central College campus, will also maintain its ban on uniformed police, organizers announced last week. Other Pride parades across the country will also bar police officers from marching in uniform this year. In New York City, a ban remains in effect until at least 2025.


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