SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday September 2, the San Francisco Pride’s Board Directors voted to ban the city’s police officers from attending the event.

For years, officers from the San Francisco Police Department were a part of the parade, often participating in and supporting the Pride celebration by driving their patrol cars in the parade, or walking.

The decision to ban officers in the 2021 parade comes after an incident that involved a violent encounter with police and protesters during the 2019 Pride Parade, as well as mounting support within the Pride Board to defund the police.

“Although the ongoing COVID pandemic has put the future of large-scale public events in doubt, we have concluded that in 2021 we cannot welcome the participation of the San Francisco Police Department’s Pride Alliance-which is to say, uniformed SFPD officers marching as a parade contingent,” reads a public statement from the Pride Board.

The board did acknowledge several efforts the police have “taken to heal decades of mistrust between the department and the city’s LGBTQ+ communities,” but also stated that “such actions are merely symbolic unless accompanied by real change.” The 2021 Pride Parade will still rely on police presence for security, which the department provides for all city-approved public events.

In a counter statement to the Pride Board’s decision, SFPD Police Chief Bill Scott expressed disappointment in the decision, saying in a public statement: 

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