AURORA, Ill. — Aurora Pride Parade organizers have banned uniformed and armed police officers from marching in this year’s parade.
The third annual parade is scheduled for June 12. Organizers are asking that officers who wish to participate do so without showing up in uniform, without bringing weapons and to not bring squad cars or other official police vehicles.
In a press release, organizers said the decision was not made lightly, but was done so in order to create a safe and welcoming place for everyone involved. The organizers noted the violent and oppressive history between the LGBT+ community and police departments across the nation.
“In short, many members of the community feel uneasy in the presence of official law enforcement vehicles, as well as uniformed officers, due to negative experiences they themselves or someone they know have had,” the statement said. “Some of these experiences may be with the Aurora Police Department, some may be with other departments.”
Organizers said it’s not their intention that anyone hides who they are or what they do. They hope officers who wish to march in the parade do so by identifying themselves with banners, T-shirts or floats.
“…We want to show that law enforcement is one of many things LGBTQ+ young people can see themselves becoming one day,” the statement said. “We’d see this as a meaningful opportunity to improve community engagement and build trust.”
Mayor Richard Irvin, who is vying to become the next governor of Illinois, said he’s disappointed about the group’s decision.
“It is baffling how what is supposed to be an event focused on and celebrating equity, diversity and inclusion is now choosing to exclude others,” he said.
When Aurora Pride issued their statement, they noted that only one law enforcement official had applied to march in the parade.
Uniformed officers and vehicles will be present outside the parade route, organizers said.