PORTLAND, Ore. – The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will not be marching as an organization during this weekend’s Portland Pride Parade, following a request from organizers that they not march in uniform.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese sent an email to staff on Friday regarding the request from Pride Northwest, the nonprofit that that organizes the Portland Pride Waterfront Festival and Parade.
The email read in part:
“Late this week I received the attached correspondence from PRIDE NW, indicating their preference that uniforms not be worn by law enforcement officers planning to march in the PRIDE parade on Sunday…After our conversation, and thoughtful consideration, I have decided that MCSO will honor the preference of PRIDE NW. It is their event and we will not be participating in the Portland PRIDE parade this year.”
The request was also sent to Portland police.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has traditionally marched in the parade as an agency. However, Reese did encourage staff to march in the parade “as a private individual.”
“I encourage you to march in plain clothes with the Multnomah County delegation,” Reese said in the email.
The request from Pride Northwest came in a letter from Executive Director Debra Porta. Porta said while the nonprofit recognizes the progress made for LGTBQ people to serve in law enforcement, there are people within the LGBTQ community who don’t’ feel comfortable with a law enforcement presence.
“So we have two things at once. LGBTQ people have made tremendous strides, in being able to serve in law enforcement as out individuals AND we have a great many in our community still traumatized and targeted by law enforcement, as a whole,” she said in the letter.
Porta made it clear in the letter that organizers were not asking law enforcement individuals to not participate. They are asking them to consider wearing different attire.
"Whether it should be this way or not, the reality is that many of our people do not see a person behind the badge-they only see a uniform, and that is where the connection ends. To that end, we are asking LGBTQ and allied people in law enforcement, who plan to march in the Portland Pride Parade NOT to march in uniform. Maybe wear department polos or other shirt-something besides the uniform. To be clear, we are NOT asking you not to march.”
While the sheriff’s office won’t be participating as an agency, they will still be providing security for the parade, as will Portland police.
The Oregonian reports several members of the Portland Police Bureau were upset with the request and will wear their uniforms when they march in Sunday's 11 a.m. parade in downtown Portland.