Phoenix Pride plans to minimize police presence at their upcoming parade and festival in November, according to a statement released on Facebook Wednesday.
From November 7 to 8, Phoenix Pride plans to celebrate its 40th annual Phoenix Pride Festival and Parade at Steele Indian School Park. Phoenix Pride, which was founded in 1981, produces two of the largest annual LGBTQ community events in Arizona: Phoenix Pride Festival and Parade and the Rainbows Festival.
Under the organization’s new policies, police vehicles would not be present during the parade. Any officers or law enforcement agencies wanting to participate in the events are asked to do so as a “private individuals” without displaying badges, firearms, non-lethal weapons or any other identifying gear.
“Phoenix Pride’s leadership, including its staff and board of directors, continues to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, and we will continue to work with our community, with our allies, and with communities of color to stand united in seeking the end to oppression of all people and the realization of equality and equity for everyone,” the statement said.
Police won’t be allowed to have booths, displays
Additionally, police and any law enforcement agencies could not participate at any booths or displays, according to the statement.
Phoenix Pride is also asking the Phoenix Police Department to use only “unarmed, non-uniformed officers” to direct and manage street closures around the parade.
And to meet the city’s requirements to use Steele Indian School Park, the organization said it will include the minimum mandated number of hand-selected, off-duty officers for the Phoenix Pride Festival and Parade.
“The Phoenix Pride Board of Directors will continue to review these policies on an annual basis to ensure that they are best reflective of the organization, its mission and our community,” the statement said.
It is unclear whether these policies will be applicable to the parade due to the size of the event. Phoenix police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Some support, others criticize decision
After the statement was released on Phoenix Pride’s Facebook, many users commented on the post expressing both approval and disappointment in the organization’s statement.
Jaziel Micheal, 25, who moved to the state in 2013, said he has been harassed by police in Arizona and supports Phoenix Pride’s decision to limit official police presence at the parade.
“They need to realize we’re not playing with them, and we don’t need them to come into our community and make us feel unsafe. We already feel unsafe,” Micheal said. “As a Black gay person I feel unsafe by the police.”
Micheal said he has seen mistreatment of Black people both in and out of the LGBTQ community and believes a conversation about treatment of Black people needs to happen more in Arizona.
“We’re never going to move forward if we don’t do something about it,” he said. “And I feel like this was a big step, because it made me feel good about it about living here, because now I’m like okay, they got our back, they hear us.”
Micheal said the announcement made him feel less lonely as a Black gay man.
Jay Villa, 37, who lives in Scottsdale, said he has also had negative interactions with police in Arizona as a person of color but doesn’t think that Phoenix Pride should minimize police presence at the parade.
“I know that Phoenix Pride is trying to lower interaction with the police officers at Pride, which I think is a huge mistake in concern with safety,” Villa said. “No matter what, when we need help, when we call for help and are in distress, who do we reach out to? Do we take care of it ourselves or do we call the police?”
Villa said he supports Black Lives Matter and believes reform and change need to be made but would like to see the LGBTQ community start conversations and hold forums with police instead of cutting ties with them.
“I think that’s a disservice that we’re doing to our own community,” he said.
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