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Denver Pride Parade Welcomes Individual Law Enforcement Officers

DENVER (CBS4)- The 2022 Denver Pride Parade is being met with a compromise this year.

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(credit: CBS)

"Officers can be in the parade, but they can't be in uniform, no marked police cars, nothing like that," said Lt. Michael Wyatt, the Denver Police Department's LGBTQ liaison.

Since 2015, the Denver Police Department marched in Pride with the community, but in 2021, officers were banned from participating in the city's virtual event, which Wyatt said left many members upset. So Wyatt, another liaison and The Center on Colfax, which organizes the parade, began looking for a solution. The solution they came up with, a new group called Pride on Duty Colorado, which would allow individual law enforcement members to be a part of the event but without all the bells and whistles.

"What I did not anticipate is that this comprise would not be accepted very well by officers, and not just LGBTQ officers, but many straight officers that are allies, they are just as upset," Wyatt told CBS4.

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(credit: CBS)

Jon Pushkin, a spokesperson for The Center said in a statement, while the group Pride on Duty is allowed to assemble "a marching contingent for the parade," part of the decision to not allow uniformed officers at the parade is because of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, where members of the community protested police harassment.

"In light of that history, as well as in solidarity with recent protests and concerns from the community, we have decided not to include law enforcement agencies in the festival or the parade. We will continue working closely with the Denver Police Department to maintain public safety during Denver PrideFest."

And while many Coloradans continue having strong feelings about police at Pride, Wyatt said many LGBTQ officers see both sides, but some feel they should have to compromise what they do to celebrate who they are.

"We've come a long way, and I think we need to move forward not consistently looking back," said Wyatt. "I think if all we do is 'Let's completely ban the police,' we're not moving forward, we're just ignoring the problem, instead of trying to fix it."

Wyatt recently decided to resign from the position of LGBTQ liaison. Wyatt told CBS4 part of that decision is because of the back-and-forth with the Pride festival, but also because he wants someone new and fresh to step into this position and take it in a different direction.

The Denver Pride Parade takes place on Sunday, June 26. It starts 9 a.m., and more information is available at denverpride.org/parade/.

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