Delta Foundation, Mayor Peduto Resist Transparency About Pridefest Security Plans

Let it not be said that this divisive blogger doesn’t *try* to get along. I began emailing The Delta Foundation and Mayor Pedutor’s PR folks (Tim & Katie) on May 9 with questions about security plans, prompted by the decision of Repent Amarillo to file a lawsuit against the City of Fort Worth for constraining their speech during Pride.

Time ticked away with no response from either party, so finally I “went to press” with the story. My concerns were much heightened by The Delta Foundation’s lack of transparency and failure to engage the RootsPride protesters. If communication over very serious allegations isn’t a priority for Delta, is it reasonable to just trust them when it comes to public safety?

After all any special plans for Repent Amarillo would have to also be applied to RootsPride, to members of our own community.

I had a few simple questions

  1. How many police officers and how many private security people will be at the events?
  2. Is there a plan for “free speech zones” and if so, what are the details?
  3. What has Delta done to support attendees, especially youth, from the vitriol and hate?

To give credit where credit is due, Delta did send me a statement after I shared my blog post on Twitter. The Mayor’s spokespeople Tim and Katie have ignored all of my messages. I did get a statement from Chief McLay as well.

The problem? The statements just talk about meetings and good intentions. No specifics, no plans, no transparency.  The Delta Foundation won’t even talk about how they spend our LGBTQ community money; can we honestly expect them to secretly plan for our public safety and the protection of our civil rights?

As for the police, I hardly think now is the time to be avoiding transparency on ANY police matter. Yes, I realize some details are sensitive and perhaps require discretion. But surely there’s no reason to evade ALL of the questions?

Statement from The Delta Foundation

The Delta Foundation has been working with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and Public Safety Department since June of last year.  We have completed an after action report following the events and the Chief of Police has been directly involved to make sure that this event happens in the City without incident.
While we have been involved with the planning, it is not our responsibility to respond to such requests as some information may be deemed sensitive to ensure the safety of all attendees.
We at the Delta Foundation want to be sure that ALL can and will have a voice.  We have always been advocated for ALL voices to be heard and allow dialog to occur.
We would defer to the City of Pittsburgh for any additional details that they wish to provide.
Statement from Chief Cameron McLay
“I have been very much engaged in assuring we have all of our bases covered with respect to free speech zones, first amendment rights and have a strong crowd management plan in place to deal with like counter-protest issues.  We just met this morning to review the plans, and I feel good about where we are….”

He feels good. Well, that’s nice. What about the feelings of the people attending the event who have a lot of reasons to feel skeptical and uncertain? I’m not being anti-police, but I am anti-obfuscation and anti-condescension.  I hear lots of great things about Chief McLay, but he’s given me no reason to believe that he has the bases all covered with regard to any of this. The clearest indicator that he does not have his bases covered is that the Mayor’s spokespeople refused to provide any details. Perhaps they simply haven’t checked their email this past month.

The LGBTQ community deserves to know ahead of time how the City and Delta will manage public safety while preserving constitutional rights. This isn’t about trust or letting the white men take care of the pesky details. It is about Mayor Peduto treating us like we are adults capable of processing information and making our own decisions about attending Pridefest.

And, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, there are going to be protest of Pride in the Streets and Pridefest led by LGBTQ people of color, members of our community. Are we going to end up with two separate law suits around security details, costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars on top of the existing cost to produce Pride? The RootsPride protestors are part of the LGBTQ community, as much as any vendor exhibiting at Pride. They deserve answers from their elected leaders and public safety officials. Have we learned NOTHING from recent events?

 

If being divisive is what is required to advocate for transparency and prevent the erosion of our civil rights, then divisive I shall be.

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