AURORA, Ill. — Mayor Richard Irvin says he will not participate in Aurora’s Pride Parade this year after Aurora Pride announced police officers were not allowed to participate in uniform.
The third annual parade is scheduled for June 12. Organizers have asked 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 last week, 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.
When Irving, who is running for Illinois governor, voiced frustration with Aurora Pride’s decision, they offered what they are calling the option to wear a “soft uniform” like a polo with a logo. However, the mayor said that is not enough.
Irvin issued a statement saying in part:
“One of the basic principles of community policing is to have the police who serve in uniform represent the communities they serve,” he said. “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.’”
During past Aurora Pride Parades, there has also been a City of Aurora float. The mayor says he is withdrawing that from the parade. The Pride flag-raising ceremony, which was planned to be held in collaboration with Aurora Pride, will now be presented by just the city.
Uniformed officers and vehicles will be present outside the parade route, parade organizers said.