ST. LOUIS - The leader of a participant in St. Louis' annual PrideFest parade is apologizing for including a Blue Lives Matter flag on the group's float.
Chad Carroll, co-creator of The Balloon Brigade, said the group will return two awards it won for its entry in Sunday's parade. The Balloon Brigade raises money for an AIDS charity.
The Blue Lives Matter flag, which symbolizes support for law enforcement, is a takeoff of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some critics say the flag offends groups that work for marginalized populations.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Carroll said he was unaware the flag has a deeper meaning for some people. He said he chose to use it to honor a lesbian police officer who is the daughter of a group member.
The Balloon Brigade issued this statement on the Blue Lives Matter Flag at St. Louis Pride:
As the co-creator/producer of the St. Louis Balloon Brigade I wish to apologize to the members of the community that I have offended. I approved a flag on our float in the Pride parade that has deeper meaning to some than I previously understood, I have been educated today.
We flew the Blue Lives Matter flag in honor of the lesbian daughter of one of our members. She came out relatively recently, and then became a police officer. When I was asked permission for this weeks ago I was only thinking of what a great show of love and respect for his family this was. There was absolutely no political motivation or activism intended by this display.
The individual members of the Brigade were not asked to vote on this, the majority of them were not even aware it was there because they were so busy and excited on parade morning. (I hadn't even remembered it was there until this morning.) I delegate out the construction of the float to a small group, but it was ultimately my original call that let the flag appear. I was wrong. I deeply regret that decision.
#Boom Media holds no responsibility in this matter; they are officially our sponsor, but have no creative input in the Brigade. Pride St. Louis is not a sponsor of the Brigade but they have always been greatly supportive of us. If I had the slightest thought this was going to be an issue I would have asked for their thoughts in advance. They would have not allowed it. PAWS and EFA have NOTHING to do with how the Brigade runs and are not present at any of our meetings except the one where we give them a big stack of cash.
The St. Louis Balloon Brigade will be declining the two parade awards we won this year, and we will be working hard to earn them back next year.
I apologize to the community at large, to Pride St. Louis, to Ellen Vanscoy (the parade director), to #Boom, to my husband Terry (co-creator/producer of the Brigade), to my float team who are getting the fallout from this, and lastly, to my Brigade members who did me PROUD this year. I made a stupid mistake. It pains me beyond belief that I have hurt the community for which I have worked so hard for so many years.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com