As they have for years, uniformed officers of the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department will march in the annual Grand Pride Parade on June 30 downtown.
That shouldn’t be news, but it is, after the Pride St. Louis board recently announced that they’d exclude uniformed police. After extensive discussion, Mayor Lyda Krewson announced on Tuesday that the group had relented.
“I’ve been in ongoing conversations with Pride for a few weeks and have expressed my view that exclusion of our police or frankly of anyone is not in the spirit of our city,” Krewson said in a news conference in her office at City Hall.
“Today, after a long conversation and consideration, Pride announced that uniformed officers will again be welcome to walk in the parade as they have in the past. Like all professions, police are friends, relatives, allies and members of the LGBTQIA community,” Krewson said.
“Thankfully the world has made a lot of progress in the last 50 years, and today we look forward to the future continuing to include police in the parade,” Krewson said. “Pride and the police have worked together for decades, really, on this parade and on the events of Pride Weekend here in St. Louis, and they will continue to do that.”
The parade will mark the 50th anniversary of clashes between police and members of the LGBTQIA community at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. Jordan Braxton, director of diversity and inclusion for Pride St. Louis, said those clashes in the Stonewall riots were the reason for the initial exclusion of police.
“We listened to the community, and we have decided that it’s an opportunity for change,” Braxton said. “We believe that there is much work to be done, but many people in our community still feel unsafe and targeted and marginalized by the systems that are here to protect us. So we’re here to make changes and move forward.”
The Pride St. Louis board debated the issue passionately, Braxton said.
“We talked, and we decided that Pride St. Louis is committed to continue the conversation with the city of St. Louis, especially law enforcement, and make sure that all groups in our community can work together to ensure cooperation for the members of our community,” Braxton said.
St. Louis Director of Public Safety Jimmie Edwards was pleased with the decision and thanked the Pride St. Louis board for allowing the city’s police an opportunity to march.
“Many of our police officers in the city of St. Louis will fall into the category of LGBTQIA and some in the trans community. We support police officers, and I am elated that they will have an opportunity to participate in uniform,” Edwards said. “We look forward to an ongoing conversation to make sure that we improve all relations with our police officers as well as our entire community.”