Rantz: Delta Airlines sponsors Seattle LGBT pride event barring police

Jun 5, 2022, 8:08 AM | Updated: 8:52 am
(Seattle Police Department' via Facebook.

June is LGBT Pride Month and two of Seattle’s largest festivities are barring cops from attending or patrolling. In one case, Delta Airlines is supporting an event with an adversarial view of police.

Both PrideFest and Capitol Hill Pride are asking cops to stay away, though for somewhat different reasons. Despite the thousands expected to attend both events, officers are not welcome on site unless there’s an active emergency. Cops are, apparently, too triggering to LGBT attendees — or at least the leadership of both groups.

Beyond the clear public safety issues this decision could pose, it sends a clear message to gay officers: stay in the closet as cops. So why is Delta effectively sponsoring this message?

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PrideFest says no to police

PrideFest, presented by Delta Airlines, orchestrates the festivities at Seattle Center after the Pride March in downtown Seattle.

Its executive director, former city council candidate Egan Orion, confirms to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that they asked the police to “limit their direct engagement with event-goers on festival grounds to emergencies.”

“PrideFest serves historically over-policed LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities,” Orion explained in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Pride actually came out of the Stonewall riots in New York in late June 1969 and was a response to pernicious and relentless police harassment and violence. We have come a long way since 1969, but many in our community still feel less safe with a police presence, based on their own lived experience. We take the safety of everyone who attends our events very seriously.”

Message to gay cops: keep part of you in the closet

Orion says he’d prefer gay officers not to attend in their uniforms.

“On LGBTQIA+ officers showing up in uniform to the event but not on duty, I don’t really understand why someone would do that,” he explained.

This is an odd statement.

It’s not uncommon for LGBT employees to attend or march in the Seattle Pride parade while either in uniform or donning clothing with their company’s name or logo. This has been a common occurrence for at least a decade. Indeed, the SPD and King County Sheriff’s Office have historically marched the parade route — while in uniform.

“We welcome all LGBTQIA+ persons and allies to our events but if we’re asking police to stay on the periphery except in case of an emergency, obviously we’re not encouraging LGBTQIA+ officers to attend the event in uniform. Diversity among police service ranks is incredibly important to create a new generation of officers that can better serve diverse communities, but applauding that diversity in that workplace and showing up to PrideFest in uniform are two very different things. We encourage more diversity in the building trades as well, but we don’t understand why someone not working would want to show up in his/her/their construction uniform,” Orion says.

One easy way to show LGBT people are represented in the SPD — so that it “looks like the community it serves,” as progressives often demand — is to show up in uniform. Just like gay people used to have to keep our sexual orientation a secret, PrideFest wants you to keep certain jobs secret.

Delta takes cowardly approach

What does presenting sponsor Delta think about this anti-police position?

Like many corporations, Delta is using June to highlight its purported support for the LGBT community to earn social currency. Online, the airline shares videos of pilots — in uniform, even! — talking about what Pride means to them. It even celebrates a recent travel award for being inclusive.

It’s possible — if not likely — that Delta has no idea that PrideFest institutionally takes an antagonistic view of police. Sponsoring these events are merely public relations plays.

Delta did not respond to a request for comment.

Capitol Hill Pride is an anti-police activist group

Organizers for Capitol Hill Pride are more upfront about their distrust of police, calling them “intimidating.”

“If you’re asking us if we feel comfortable with uniformed police officers at our event – in a word, no,” co-organizer Charlette LeFevre explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

They’re not merely uncomfortable with police. Organizers LeFevre and Philip Lipson are proud that they’re joining other anti-police LGBT event organizers in “banning” cops.

“Seattle’s Capitol Hill Pride is continuing its ban on Seattle police participation inline with New York Pride and Denver Pride’s police ban for this year’s 2022 March & Rally. We are glad to hear for 2022 San Francisco Pride – which holds the largest LGBTQ gathering in the nation is also limiting police participation,” LeFevre and Lipson said in a statement.

Capitol Hill Pride can’t actually ban officers from attending or patrolling as the event is hosted on city streets and Seattle Parks property. Still, officers will stay on the perimeter should they be needed.

State Senator Jamie Pederson (D-Seattle) is a featured speaker at the event thanks, in part, to sponsoring and supporting the “police reimaging” bills that have led to a surge of crime statewide. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Seattle Pride takes a different approach

It’s perhaps ironic that Seattle Pride, which is responsible for organizing the pride parade in downtown Seattle, is not shunning officers. While leaders at this organization are considerably more partisan than Orion, and more in line with LeFevre and Lipson, it decided to continue discussions with police while welcoming their participation.

“This year, all City departments – including SPD – are able to participate as contingents in the parade,” an organizer explained to MyNorthwest.com.

The organization noted it “contracts with private onsite security for its events” but works with the SPD “for added security services as required by the City for large permitted events.”

“Currently, Seattle Pride’s board of directors is continuing its discussions with SPD regarding the relationship between law enforcement and Seattle’s LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the role of police at Seattle Pride events moving forward,” the statement continued.

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What if the police didn’t even show up?

Despite being shunned at PrideFest and Capitol Hill Pride, officers will still put their own safety on the line in order to protect the people who hate them, should an emergency situation occur. Hopefully, officers won’t be needed.

But what if they didn’t show up when they were needed?

Organizers try to have it both ways: they want to signal their hatred for cops while still using them when they’re in desperate need of assistance. Both PrideFest and Capitol Hill Pride acknowledge that police are welcome should there be a public safety emergency.

But if cops are not good enough to attend the events, with LGBT activists demanding tolerance while pushing gay officers back in the closet, why are they good enough to respond to emergencies?

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  InstagramFacebook, and YouTube. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Delta Airlines sponsors Seattle LGBT pride event barring police