San Francisco police chief 'disappointed' by Pride ban

Sept 3- San Francisco’s police chief said on Thursday he was “disappointed” that the city’s Pride parade had banned uniformed officers from participating in next year’s LGBT+ march. “As the Chief of Police, I am disappointed in the Pride Board’s decision,” said Chief William Scott in emailed comments. Worldwide, Pride commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots when…

By Oscar Lopez

Sept 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – San Francisco’s policechief said on Thursday he was “disappointed” that the city’sPride parade had banned uniformed officers from participating innext year’s LGBT+ march.

The San Francisco Pride Board of Directors said it hadenacted its ban after a city oversight agency dismissedcomplaints of local police using unnecessary force during aconfrontation with protesters in 2019.

“As the Chief of Police, I am disappointed in the PrideBoard’s decision,” said Chief William Scott in emailed comments.

“I believe it is important for our members to participate inPride Month activities so we can show firsthand that we are adiverse department, that we are proud of who we are and that weare willing to work closely with the LGBTQ community we serve.”

LGBT+ groups around the world increasingly question policepresence at Pride marches, calling for the events to return totheir roots as acts of rebellion against police brutality.

Worldwide, Pride commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots whenpolice raided a New York bar of the same name and patrons foughtback, Black and Hispanic transgender activists among them.

“The roots of the Pride movement are based in free andhonest expression,” the San Francisco Pride Board said in astatement on Wednesday announcing its police ban.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the steps that the policehave taken to heal decades of mistrust between the departmentand the city’s LGBTQ+ communities.

“But SFPD’s longstanding patterns of violence outweigh anyrainbow-colored police cruisers or Pride patches”.

According to Pride organizers, the conflict arose in June2019 when demonstrators disrupted the Parade and officersintervened, “swarming the area and leading to a larger scuffle”.

Two months after the confrontation, Scott made headlines byoffering an official apology to the LGBT+ community for ahistory of violence and mistreatment at the hands of police.

“We’re sorry for what happened, we’re sorry for our role init, and we’re sorry for the harm that it caused,” he said.

But organizers of the city’s Pride event said such actionswere “merely symbolic” and called for “a fundamentalrestructuring of policing as an institution”.

The calls for police reform echo those made by activistsacross the country in the wake of killings of unarmed Black menby police, including the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd.(Reporting by Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib; editing by xxx.Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable armof Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around theworld who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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