Irvin stands by Aurora Pride parade rebuke

Aurora Mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin on Wednesday redoubled criticism of Aurora Pride parade organizers for excluding uniformed and armed police from marching in the event as participants.

On-duty Aurora police wearing uniforms and carrying guns have kept previous parades safe and successful, Irvin said at a news conference in Chicago.

"And I think it's a little hypocritical now to say we don't want those very same police officers to wear their uniforms to identify who they are in this parade," Irvin said in answer to a question.

Aurora Pride officials posted on their website that they welcomed police from Aurora and other agencies but not if they wore uniforms or carried guns because that could intimidate some participants who have been discriminated against or harassed by law enforcement. It's a change in policy from previous parades.

"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," parade organizers said. "Some of these experiences may be with the Aurora Police Department, some may be with other departments. APD is absolutely ahead of many other departments, but there's still work to be done."

The mayor has announced he would not participate in the parade. The city will have a separate flag-raising event during Pride Month, Irvin noted. "I'm going to stand with my men and women who wear that badge, many of them in Aurora who are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) themselves, and we're going to have our recognition," Irvin said.

The mayor will join the five other candidates in the Republican primary - state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, McHenry County business owner Gary Rabine, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, attorney Max Solomon of Hazel Crest, and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg - at 7 p.m. Thursday for a debate on ABC 7.

The intent of Wednesday's briefing was to decry crime rates and a criminal justice reform bill passed by Democrats in the General Assembly and supported by Gov. J.B. Pritzker

In the city and suburbs, "people are frightened about the epidemic of crime in the state," said Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, an Irvin backer.

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