Police Presence Leads Social Justice Groups to Exit Social Justice-Themed Pride

Pride weekend is here, and it's secure: Metal detectors will greet visitors to Pride's main stages at Civic Center on Sunday and all festivities will include a heightened police presence, measures taken following the June 12 slaughter of 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Pride's official theme this year is Racial and Economic Justice, a marked step away from corporate partying towards the gay rights' radical social justice roots. To that end, groups representing marginalized people of color — including Black Lives Matter and TGI Justice, which advocates for black trans people — were given prominent placement in the Pride Parade.

But no more. Saying that they are “more afraid of police than terrorists,” activists from TGI Justice, Black Lives Matter, and other groups announced earlier Friday that they will withdraw from the Pride Parade.

[jump] Pride has a lot of grand marshals. Both BLM and TGJIP executive director Janetta Johnson, a black trans woman, were going to be grand marshals in the parade. Both they and St. James Infirmary, a health clinic for sex workers, announced their exit Friday morning.

“While I am thankful for this honor, and grateful to Pride for bringing our work to the front this year, the decision to add more police to Pride does not make me, or my community, more safe,” Johnson said in a statement released today.

“The San Francisco police department has proven time and again – by racially profiling and murdering black people, black trans people – that they cannot keep us safe,” said Shanelle Matthews, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter, according to the Guardian. “We know that some people will feel safe at Pride, but we will not.”

In addition to the metal detectors, Pride announced a ban on shopping carts and e-cigarettes — presumably because e-cigarettes can explode, but the shopping cart move is seen as anti-homeless.

“The increased police presence at Civic Center, as well as the ban on shopping carts and items typically belonging to marginally housed and homeless people will only make pride less safe and accessible to our communities,” said St. James Infirmary executive director Stephanie Ashley in a statement. “These policies do not reflect the theme of racial & economic justice which we sought to march under proudly.”

At least one Pride board member backed the groups' exit, according to the Guardian.

View Comments