Then San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman gets a high-five from a man in the crowd at the 2017 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego Pride, organizers of the city’s largest LGBTQ+ event, announced Thursday it would not allow law enforcement agencies to have contingents in the San Diego Pride Parade or booths at its Pride Festival unless the City of San Diego made a series of police reforms.

The organization is requesting the city:

  • Recognize the Pride Parade as a free speech event and no longer bill the organization for road closures or safety.
  • Immediately adopt the #8CantWait Campaign recommendations.
  • And support a phased approach to policy reform recommendations centering on black LGBTQ+ San Diegans.

Fernando Lopez, the organization’s executive director, sent a letter with the requested reforms to Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday evening.

“Under your tenure as mayor of the city of San Diego, you have been at the forefront of unity and equity for our city and region,” Lopez wrote. “You have been a pioneer of forward movement and vocal support for LGBTQ community on issues of justice and equality.”

The request comes amid a major push for police reform and defunding across the nation in the wake of the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Lopez said the requests come in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Your legacy is one of advocacy for marriage equality and full federal equal protection under the law for LGBTQ Americans,” he wrote in the letter to Faulconer. “The time again has come for you to stand on the right side of history and Pride again asks you to stand with us in support of our black LGBTQ and ally communities.”

The #8CantWait campaign is a series of eight policing policies laid out by police reform organization Campaign Zero, and includes tactics like using de-escalation and avoiding unnecessary use of force.

Pride said once these requests have been met, it will allow law enforcement to once again have a role in the parade and festival. Until then, police will be used for security and traffic purposes, it said.

“San Diego Pride will continue to maintain our relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to continue serving as a bridge to our community and ensure community safety remains our number-one priority. Law enforcement agencies will oversee road closures and vital safety precautions in coordination with Pride’s leadership team,” a statement from Pride said.

Pride 2020 has been made into a virtual event due to COVID-19, so any major changes would come in 2021.

— City News Service

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