Keep Cops Out Of Pride

Stonewall started as a riot against the NYPD. Let’s honor that legacy.

Recently, the organizers behind the annual “mainstream” Pride Parade in New York City made the decision to not allow the NYPD to participate in the parade until 2025, at which point the NYPD’s participation “will be reviewed” by a Community Board to determine whether they have the capacity to not “be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason.” More than likely the hope is in a few years people will forget that All Cops Are Bastards and that Stonewall Was A Riot and they’ll quietly let the NYPD back into the mix with only minor blowback.

The news of Pride booting the NYPD was met by two predictable responses: The queer community rejoicing and the NYPD crying about it, which made the queer community rejoice even more.

Following the news, the New York Times editorial board released a breathtakingly bad piece. They used the anonymity that an “Editorial Board” byline grants to prevent those who actually wrote the piece from being known — always a good sign that you’re publishing something you know to be good and true and valuable to the general public. The piece criticized the organizers for failing to be “inclusive” toward a group of people whose employer is infamous for antagonizing, brutalizing, and punishing queer New Yorkers.

The piece falls over itself attempting to argue that not letting cops use a huge queer space for their PR campaign is an act of putting queer people back in the closet, “closing the door” on a few queer people, and “missing an opportunity to broaden its coalition.” It is mindbogglingly bad copaganda that strains credulity, especially given both the history of Pride and the current intimidation and oppression tactics the NYPD is using against radical queer spaces today.

It is perfectly fitting that there be no cops allowed at Pride. That first “brick” at Stonewall (which may have been an empty shot glass, a tumbler someone had been drinking out of, pocket change, or a Molotov cocktail — neat) was thrown at NYPD officers who had made a habit out of pulling up to the Stonewall Inn to violently target and arrest the queer community. For years the parade has been criticized for giving the NYPD space to march alongside them — and brutalize attendees.

It is all credit to the 2020 uprising that spaces like Pride have begun re-examining how much they’ve been taken advantage of to help paint and maintain an inaccurate, pinkwashed version of what the NYPD is in relation to the city it polices.

Whether the organizers felt moved to exclude cops on the basis that other attendees would happily target them and potentially “ruin” the parade, or they had a come to Gay Jesus moment about what Pride is, or the organizers calling the shots this time around are more attuned to sociopolitical dynamics than previous organizers — it doesn’t matter. The point is there will be no cops in Pride and the NYPD is in agony over it. That is unequivocally a good thing and anyone claiming otherwise is running a PR campaign for the primary bullies of queer New Yorkers over the course of decades.

Let’s circle back to that heinous NYTimes piece doing some really big stretches to accuse the organizers of failing inclusivity. First off, inclusivity does not mean allowing space to your oppressors just because they want to be there. Second off, inclusivity does not mean allowing space to your oppressors just because they want to be there. Third off, inclusivity does not mean allowing space to your oppressors just because they want to be there.

Make sense?

As I have monitored and examined rightwing politics both casually over the years and in the context of my reporting more recently, I have seen countless instances of rightwing efforts to repackage progressive concepts to push regressive actions. Ted Cruz’s entire twitter account is a great example of this, aside from that time he accidentally liked a porn video with a woman who looks like his wife. More specifically, the “All Lives Matter” crowd plays the same game as the NYPD and their bootlicking media allies are attempting here: They took a slogan for a progressive concept — which is that Black people face the most severe oppression in the U.S. and that to alleviate an entire system of injustice demands focusing on injustices that predominantly impact Black Americans — and twisted it to upend it.

Their argument runs something like “Why do you only care about ONE group of people? If you care so much, shouldn’t you care about EVERYONE, EQUALLY?” The intent is clearly designed to undermine collective support for a movement centered on Black people. Not to create support for alleviating collective oppression. Just to undermine support for helping Black people so that they are left dealing with the same systemic white supremacist oppression they’ve been dealing with.

That same tactic is being used by the NYTimes, NYDaily News, and of course Bill deBlasio to justify allowing cops in Pride: Clearly you don’t actually care about ALL queer people if you won’t let the 7 queer people who work for the NYPD walk around acting like harmless geeks waving Bank of America-branded rainbow flags. The goal is to challenge the organizers’ claimed progressivism by painting them as exclusionary, small-minded, and leading an effort you, casual reader, shouldn’t support. The effort is not to increase support for collective liberation but to squash it entirely, let every space be taken over by cops, and let marginalized communities continue being targets.

Unlike queerness, no one is born a cop. That’s a choice those people made. There is no such thing as a “blue life” — infants are not born carrying a gun. If they were, I suspect we’d have a whole other crisis on our hands about how wombs have developed the technology to organically grow a gun. Those cops chose to join the organization whose history entails harassing our queer ancestors. They chose to put on the same uniform as people who routinely stalk the weekly Stonewall Protests, who pepper sprayed and beat queer people last year for the high crime of marching for trans lives. They chose a job where they’re expected to meet ticketing and arrest quotas (which they’ll tell you they don’t do the same way they say they don’t kettle protestors because they call it “encirclement”). If they want to march in Pride so badly, they can hand over their badge and get a job as a social worker.

That cops were ever allowed in Pride in the first place shows how hard it is to stem the flow of copaganda in a police state. That the New York Times would criticize Pride for returning to its roots shows the intensity of tantrum the white supremacist status quo-reinforcers will throw when the status quo’s stranglehold on progressive efforts loses some of its grip.

The mounting pressure campaign coming out of the NYPD to shame the organizers into changing their mind is one that will only get stronger the closer to Pride we get — and it’s one the “real Pride” — the Queer Liberation March — has never had to deal with because they never let cops march in the first place.

Worry not, my darlings. While there will be no cops in Pride, you can rest easy knowing that Pride will still be corporate sponsored by all those banks that prey on, punish, and profit off of poor people.

See you June 27th at Bryant Park. Unless you’re a cop, that is. You’re not invited. Hahahaahahahahahahaha