Ill. mayor won't march in Pride Parade over police uniform controversy
Parade organizers suggested officers march in a "soft uniform," but Mayor Richard Irvin said that isn't good enough
By Megan Jones
The Beacon-News, Aurora, Ill.
AURORA, Ill. — After much back and forth between organizers of the Aurora Pride Parade and Mayor Richard Irvin over how police officers should present themselves in the upcoming parade, Irvin announced late Tuesday afternoon he will not participate in the parade and is removing the city's float from the event.
The controversy began recently when Aurora Pride, the organizers of the June 12 parade, banned police officers from wearing their uniforms while marching in the event. After Irvin asked organizers to reconsider the decision, they said officers could wear a "soft uniform" instead, such as polo shirts with a logo, carrying signs or banners.
Irvin said in a statement Tuesday that the impacted officers and command staff are not in agreement with the decision and that he will not participate in the parade, as he did in 2018 and 2019.
Additionally, Irvin said he is withdrawing the city's float from the parade. He said that a ceremony to raise the Pride flag, initially planned in collaboration with Aurora Pride, will now be presented solely by the city.
"One of the basic principles of community policing is to have the police who serve in uniform represent the communities they serve," Irvin said in the statement. "Our LGBTQ officers, like most officers, do just that while regularly interacting with residents in their identifiable standard uniforms, not someone else's narrowed view and censored definition of a 'soft uniform.'"
Aurora Pride has said the regular uniforms upset some people who would take part in the parade because of past incidents across the country involving police and people of color and in the LGBTQ community.
Organizers later reiterated their position and said they hoped the invitation for police to march but without full uniforms would be perceived as an "olive branch."
(c)2022 The Beacon-News (Aurora, Ill.)