Uniformed San Jose Police Officers Not Invited to Silicon Valley Pride Parade and Festival

For years, the tradition had been uniformed police officers, including the chief, march in the pride parade to show solidarity

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Mending fences might take longer than imagined.

The Silicon Valley Pride Parade and Festival is this weekend and for the first time, San Jose police were not invited to participate.

The celebrations began Thursday with the raising of the rainbow flag at city hall. The police chief was there for the occasion but he won’t be a part of the weekend festivities.

They’ve been doing it for years at San Jose City Hall, hoisting the rainbow flag.

The police chief was there and was on hand when they raised the pride flag at police headquarters in June, for pride month.

For years, the tradition has been uniformed police officers, including the chief, march in the pride parade to show solidarity. But, that tradition ends this weekend.

“This was a decision that was not made lightly by our board of directors,” said Nicole Altamirano, CEO of Silicon Valley Pride.  

The board voted to not invite uniformed officers to the festival and parade this year, citing backlash from police incidents across the nation over the last year -- inculding the murder of George Floyd.

“We had heard from some of our community members that they wouldn’t feel safe with an excessive amount of police presence,” said Altamirano. 

One LGBTQ officer, who wanted to remain anonymous, is furious with the decision to not have uniformed officers there this weekend, saying they feel Silicon Valley Pride has turned its back on gay officers.

“It does a disservice to the officers of the department to show that we are able to be ourselves, our true authentic selves when we thought a community that would never turn us away, is turning us away,” the officer said.  

The chief and several officers will be there in plain clothes, however. And uniformed officers will provide crowd and traffic control at the event.

“We look forward to participating again next year and showing our pride. Not only in our profession, but also supporting our LGBTQ+ officers,” said Chief Tony Mata.

On Thursday, organizers spent the afternoon exchanging pleasantries with the chief and continuing a conversation that all hope will mend fences soon.

“The reforms that need to happen in the police department, he is taking to heart so the police are not a danger to us, but a support to us,” said Gabrielle Antolovich of the Billy Defrank Center. 

A complicated conversation that all sides hope leads to a better relationship.

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