Gay Shame has put out a call to end all police participation in pride; all of it, NO police marching cutely in pride contingents, and particularly NO military style policing of the march in the name of protecting the queers. The police are not our friends and they don’t give a flying fuck about us. This year is the 50th anniversary of the stonewall riots in the village in new york city. Miss Major, prison abolitionist Black trans gender activist, former director of TGI Justice Project, who was part of the stonewall riot, launched this call with a short video entitled five-O out of pride 50. It is past time to expel the police from sf pride, cops who regularly murder black and brown people and whose institutional mandate is to protect the greedy ruling class. Gay Shame also calls for kicking the corporations out of pride. Pride is the biggest money-making tourist event in san francisco and is literally a sea of corporate logos and annoying capitalist floats, all rigidly forced into boring contingents, behind barricades marshaled by police.
Over the years since the beginning of gay liberation marches, which began a year after the Stonewall rebellion in 1970, people have fought to reclaim them as part of our insurrectionary movement. In 1992 ACT UP effectively slowed the SF pride to a snail’s pace by dying-in every seven minutes for the entire length of the parade route, to underscore that someone was dying from AIDS every seven minutes. LAGAI Queer Insurrection in the early 90’s carried a banner of a burning police car with the slogan IT’S RIGHT TO REBEL directly behind the police contingent marching in pride. In 1998 LAGAI did a big Crash the Parade campaign, complete with creative wheat pasting, urging people to tear down the barricades and resist the corporate takeover of pride. Our slogan was “IT’S A MOVEMENT NOT A MARKET.” In 2002 Gay Shame had a vomitorium specifically targeting budweiser, a heinous corporate sponsor. Gay Shame activists made a seven-foot-tall cardboard budweiser can that read “Vomit Out Budweiser Pride and the Selling of Queer Identities.” Gay Shame tells the story of dumping a bunch of big stuffed couches into the parade route in an effort to shut down the parade.
More recently, in conjunction with the Movement for Black Lives, Queer and Trans people of Color and allies have disrupted a number of pride marches calling out the heinous police violence and murder. In 2017 people blocked the columbus ohio pride highlighting the police murder of Philando Castile. Four Black Queers, Wripley Bennet, Kendall Denton, Ashley Braxton and Deandre Miles, were arrested and subjected to a year of court proceedings. They were convicted of misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in spite of a campaign to get the charges dropped. All four eventually got probation. Also in June 2017 No Justice No Pride in Washington DC disrupted pride forcing the parade to be rerouted. Disruptions were successfully carried out in boston, minneapolis, chicago, seattle, phoenix and new york city, all demanding the end to police violence and participation of police and corporations in annual pride marches.
This movement to confront corporate pride and police presence has become worldwide and has had some success. Toshio from Gay Shame compiled a list of cities that currently don’t allow cops (or at least no cops in uniform):
Gothenburg, Sweden; Auckland, New Zealand; London, Ontario; Minneapolis; Toronto; Sacramento; Calgary, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta. Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbus, Ohio, New Orleans, Paris, Nice, Toulouse, Lyon, and Cologne, Germany all have cop-and-corp-free alternative pride celebrations.
Old radical dykes have become increasingly appalled by what’s been happening at the Dyke March. We all assemble with excitement on 18th and Dolores to see the exuberant expression of all things dyke. The last couple years have been marred by a hideous display of a battalion of killer cops leading off the march before the Dykes on Bikes, the lead truck and the disabled cable car. We scream ourselves hoarse COPS OUT OF THE MARCH. It is an outrage and affront to our liberation.
I decided to go to the first meeting of the Dyke March 2019 planning committee to discuss the issue of police in the march. It had been 30 years since I went to a Dyke march planning meeting so it was not such a surprise that things have changed. The Dyke March itself has never gotten a permit for the march and that is still true. However the party/slash rally in Dolores Park has mushroomed into an enormous event, requiring a lot from the entirely voluntary committee structure of the Dyke March. About 20 people showed up, about half queers of color, all at least 30 years younger than me.
The meeting had the requisite ice breaker, involving butcher paper and markers. I was taken aback when someone from the outreach committee rushed over to me and began busily outreaching at me, because I am so old, while I was trying to shrink into an anonymous corner. I was able to get past all this and floated the question of what to do about the cops at the Dyke March. Turns out that they also really really don’t want the police, but say that the police have become ever more aggressive and demanding with them each year. Apparently there are police snipers on buildings above the march. They also said that the Dykes On Bikes have become increasingly alienated because of police stipulations on them. Although they seemed interested in getting the police out of the Dyke March, they are clearly preoccupied with the myriad of logistics involved with putting on the extensive event in Dolores Park. The city requires a $10,000 permit for the park and major cooperation with agencies and the police who close the neighborhood streets.
We in LAGAI and Gay Shame have a number of creative ideas about what could be done to improve this nasty police problem at the Dyke March. To further this aim, I girded my loins and signed up for the safety committee: god forbid! Anyone who wants to help us make this happen should go to thedykemarch.org and sign up for their committee and updates.
We will also approach the Trans March about their police problem.
We must reclaim our liberation!
COPS OUT OF PRIDE