Updated May 25, 2022 - News

Some Seattle Pride events want police to stay away

Illustration of a police uniform standing with no person inside it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Leaders of some local Pride events — including the annual PrideFest bash at Seattle Center — are asking police to stay away from the festivities this year.

Why it matters: Around the country, organizers of Pride events are reconsidering whether to let police participate.

  • Event organizers cite recent police killings of Black Americans, as well as Pride's origins in commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots — which began as an uprising against police — as reasons to keep officers out.

What's happening: Leaders of PrideFest have asked police to stay off of the festival grounds for this year's June 26 event.

  • It takes place at the end of the Seattle Pride parade route, and is expected to draw tens of thousands of people.
  • PrideFest is making the same request for a smaller event it will host June 25 on Capitol Hill.
  • Meanwhile, Capitol Hill Pride is also banning officers from participating in a separate rally and march it hosts each year in the neighborhood, which is the historic center of Seattle's LGBTQ community.

Yes, but: Seattle Pride will still allow officers to participate in the parade.

What they're saying: Leaders of the Capitol Hill group said they feel the Seattle Police Department still hasn't held officers accountable for uses of force during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

  • Largely because of that, "we will continue to request police stay respectfully at the perimeters," the group, which banned police last year too, said in a statement to Axios.
  • The group's director, Charlette LeFevre, cited a finding of no wrongdoing for an officer who pepper-sprayed a 7-year-old and a seven-day suspension for a cop who rolled a bicycle over a protester's head as examples of discipline that was too lax.

Between the lines: Egan Orion, PrideFest's executive director, told Axios he doesn't expect the city will be able to fully accommodate the organization's request for no police, mainly because of the size of the event.

  • He wants police to be able to respond quickly in the event of an emergency, like a mass shooting, but, "beyond that, we want them to limit or avoid engagement with our attendees and have told them so."

The other side: Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, didn't respond to a message from Axios this week.

  • Last year, however, Solan said banning Seattle police officers from Pride events was "disgusting, bigoted, discriminatory and contradicts our community's beautiful inclusive LGBTQ message."

The bottom line: The fallout from police clashes with protesters in 2020 continues to reverberate, with the requests that police step back from local Pride events as some of the latest examples.

Editor's note: The headline and story have been updated with new information about other local Pride events.

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