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Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin refuses to participate in LGBTQ+ Pride Parade after organizers ban uniformed police officers

Aurora Mayor will not participate in Pride Parade
Aurora Mayor will not participate in Pride Parade 00:31

AURORA, Ill. (CBS) -- Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin announced Tuesday that he will not be participating in the city's LGBTQ+ Pride Parade after organizers refused to allow police officers to participate in uniform.

Irvin also announced the City of Aurora will no longer have a float in the parade.

Organizers for the parade made the decision last week that law enforcement officers may participate – but without weapons, uniforms, or individual vehicles. The parade is set for June 12.

"The impacted officers and the command staff of the Aurora Police Department are not in agreement with this, and I stand with our officers. As a result, I will not participate in this year's Aurora Pride Parade, as I did in previous years," Irvin wrote. "Furthermore, I am withdrawing the City of Aurora's float from the parade, and the Pride Flag Raising Ceremony - initially planned to be held in collaboration with Aurora Pride - will now be presented solely by the City."

Irvin wrote that the City of Aurora has "worked diligently for years" to strengthen trust between police and the community "without painting Aurora with the broad brush of a national narrative."

"One of the basic principles of community policing is to have the police who serve in uniform represent the communities they serve," Irvin wrote. "Our LGBTQ officers, like most officers, do just that while regularly interacting with residents in their identifiable standard uniforms, not someone else's narrowed view and censored definition of a 'soft uniform.'"

Parade organizers last week issued a news release reading in part, "many members of the community feel uneasy in the presence of official law enforcement vehicles, as well as uniformed officers, due to negative experiences they themselves or someone they know have had."

The organizers did allow uniformed police officers during the 2018 and 2019 pride parades in Aurora. But they said in 2022, the climate has shifted – and community members are more strained than they were three years ago.

There will be uniformed officers and vehicles present outside the parade route.  

Speaking to CBS 2's Meredith Barack last week, Aurora police Sgt. Lee Catavu likewise expressed disappointment. Catavu spearheaded the Aurora Police Department's LGBTQ+ liaison program and is a member of the LGBTQ+ community himself.

 "I think it's another opportunity lost, where we can highlight all the positive inroads that the police department have made with all different communities," he said.

Catavu says the irony is not lost on him that officers are being told they can participate – but only if they conceal who they are.

Irvin wrote that other community leaders and organizers have numerous community events planned this year where there are no concerns about uniformed police officers participating. The city will participate in those events, and "all events that do not have the exclusionary policies demonstrated by Aurora Pride," Irvin wrote.

Irvin has been mayor of Aurora since 2017. He is also currently running in the Republican primary for Illinois governor.

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