We represent Aurora Pride, a local LGBT+ rights group, in their lawsuit challenging Aurora’s Special Events Ordinance. The action follows chaos the City created surrounding the 2022 Aurora Pride Parade.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin created a public controversy around the 2022 Pride Parade by attacking Aurora Pride’s decision to ask asked a group of police officers to march in the Pride Parade wearing plain clothes, rather than armed and in uniform.  Mayor Irvin announced that – because Aurora Pride would not change its decision about the message of its parade – he would personally boycott the event and withdraw the City’s float, and that Aurora Pride was no longer welcome at the City’s Pride flag-raising ceremony.

Immediately after Mayor Irvin withdrew his support, the City did as well.  Aurora Pride learned that the police who had signed up to work the parade were following Mayor Irvin’s lead and refusing to show up for the parade. The City then revoked Aurora Pride’s permit because of its own inability to provide staffing for the parade.  After the cancellation became public, and Aurora Pride threatened to sue for violation of its First Amendment rights, City officials told Aurora Pride that they had “found” enough officers for the event and the event went forward. 

It later became public that Aurora addressed the problem by offering officers “triple time” to work the event. Aurora Pride learned that the City expected it to foot the bill for the City’s unilateral payment incentive. The end result was Aurora Pride being billed over $43,500 for the cost of policing, rather than the roughly $21,000 the City originally quoted. 

In May 2023, a federal judge blocked the City from enforcing portions of Aurora’s amended Special Events Ordinance, including the provisions allowing individual police officers the discretion to determine the viability, scope and cost of protected speech in the community.  This will allow Aurora Pride to plan its parade without fear that the City may cancel, downsize, or increase the cost of the event because police, or other City employees, disagree with its message.


Rebecca Glenberg, Kevin Fee (ACLU-IL), Theodore R. Scarborough, Eric Mattson (Sidley Austin LLP)

Date filed

January 17, 2023