Calling the Commissioners

NYPD are not "participants", they're close comrades in the parade.
Photo: DNAinfo.com
Yesterday the Ad Hoc Committee to Ban NYPD & FDNY Participation in Discriminatory Parades -- the group that includes Irish Queers and many of the others who signed the initial request to Mayor de Blasio -- sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner Bratton and FDNY Commissioner Cassano.

The letter asks them to prohibit uniformed NYPD and FDNY officers from marching in the parade, and to prohibit use of departmental resources for organizing participation in the parade. No more recruiting marchers through official NYPD and FDNY channels, and no more lining up in precincts. If they feel urgently that they must march in an anti-gay parade, the law says they should do it in their private capacity.

In 2011, Irish Queers and 12 other LGBTQ groups -- including the LGBT Advisory Committee to the NYPD -- sent a similar letter to then-NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. He didn't even bother to acknowledge it. Why should he? He'd been the Grand Marshal of the parade in 2010. In 2011, he marched with Mayor Bloomberg at his side, at the front of the parade where the bigoted organizers gave him pride of place.

Upholding the law is a political process as well as a legal one, we know. It's not enough that the law prohibits City departments from expressing bias (and no law can prevent them from holding bigoted views that make pathological their daily interactions with communities.) But here's a moment in which we're all demanding police accountability. Muslim community surveillance, stop-and-frisk, and the daily acts of diminishment and violence toward queers, youth, homeless people and others -- we're saying no more. Challenge it on every front, and challenge it together.

The St. Patrick's Day parade represents more than two decades of NYPD and FDNY total disregard for queers, human rights law, and community outrage; at times, joyous and violent disregard. The homophobia is so clear that the new Mayor and nearly every public official in the City are forced to boycott. Ireland is in an uproar over it as well.

For the NYPD and FDNY to claim, in the face of all that, that their participation is somehow separate from the homophobia, the boycotts, the protests -- that would be more than silly. They'd be saying "you'll have to sue us if you want us to follow the law." And that wouldn't stand up at all.