ST. LOUIS — Pride St. Louis (PSL), organizers of the St. Louis Pride Parade, announced Tuesday morning that they would allow LGBTQ police officers to march in the parade in uniform, reversing a decision from last week.
PSL made the announcement during a Facebook Live broadcast.
“We concluded after months and weeks of lengthy discussions and debate and also listening to our community, that we will welcome LGBTQIA Police Officers and allies to walk in uniform in the 2019 PrideFest Parade June 30th downtown,” the organization said in a statement with the video broadcast.
Just over a week ago, PSL said that police would be welcome to march in the parade, but not in uniform. Reaction was strong, with many people on both sides arguing on social media.
Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG), one of the grand marshals for the parade and an advocacy organization for transgender people across the St. Louis metropalitan area, was not please. MTUG’s executive director and co-founder Sayer Johnson has released this statement:
“This year, 50 years after the Stonewall riot, we were cautiously optimistic that we would finally be seen by our own community. Earlier this year, the board of Pride St Louis decided to center gender expansive and trans lived experiences by holding us up as grand marshals in honor of 50 years into our movement. When we agreed to take our place as grand marshals, we agreed to make our bodies vulnerable; we put our most marginalized community members at risk once again, especially our siblings of color. While hesitant, we agreed despite knowing that uniformed, armed police officers who have historically and presently criminalized our bodies would be in the parade. We have strained at best, and violent at worst, relationships with police officers. There has been no indication or effort made to gain an understanding or awareness by the police of who we are and what our community needs from our police officers. We knew that our constituency would be resistant to marching with armed officers however we wanted to work with the Pride Board and Parade team. Once the decision was made to exclude armed, uniformed police officers we finally felt seen, heard, understood and centered. Watching the backlash from white, cisgender gay and lesbian and straight community members, we realize that there is so much more work to be done. More than 50 years into this fight, we are not safe even within our own movement. So what are we going to do now? We don’t know. For right now, our leadership core is at a loss for words. We are disappointed. We are frightened. And, now quite frankly, we are much more aware of the massive targets on our backs put there by the Federal government, our state legislature, and our own community leaders.”
The news comes just as reports of a transgender woman being sexually assaulted by a Chicago cop are making the rounds.