Black Lives Matter has pulled its participation in this weekend’s San Francisco’s Pride Parade due to the increased police presence, the organization announced on Friday.
The activist group is one of three of the parade’s Grand Marshals to drop out in protest of the parade’s increase security. St. James Infirmary, which focuses on providing medical services for sex workers, and Janetta Johnson of the TGI Justice Project, which advocates for imprisoned transgender people, both also said they would not be participating.
“As queer people of color, we are disproportionately targeted by both vigilante and police violence,” Black Lives Matter member Malkia Cyril said in a statement. “We know first hand that increasing the police presence at Pride does not increase safety for all people. Militarizing these events increases the potential for harm to our communities and we hope in the future SF Pride will consider community-centered approaches to security at pride events.”
SF Pride organizers said on Tuesday that the annual parade and festival — which features a “racial and economic justice” theme — would see increased security in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando that left 50 people dead. The new security measures included a “significant police presence.”
“You’re turning out an armed force that has a record of racist violence against people of color in a march themed Black Lives Matter. If folks can’t see the irony of that, I don’t know what to tell you,” Cyril said in an interview with The Guardian on Tuesday.
SF Pride board president Michelle Meow responded to the withdrawals, telling The Guardian that she supports Black Lives Matter and the other groups and individuals who decided not to participate due to the new measures.
“”Increasing police presence in our community is not the solution,” she said. “I will be missing some of you, but I know this is the beginning of something that we’re going to do in San Francisco. We stand here today in support and solidarity of all of our honorees and grand marshals, including Black Lives Matter.”
Despite the withdrawals, heightened security be in place at both San Francisco and New York Pride events this weekend.