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Minneapolis: No cops or corporations at Pride, escalating fight for justice!

By Sam Martinez |
July 2, 2020
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Take Back Pride march in Minneapolis.
Take Back Pride march in Minneapolis. (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

Minneapolis, MN - On June 28, the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar held the fourth annual protest at Twin Cities Pride, with over 10,000 in attendance. The organizing came on the heels of the Minneapolis rebellion for Justice for George Floyd. The ad hoc coalition of 100+ groups organized a Pride protest and celebration in a two-week timeframe. This was due to winning their demands of corporations and cops out of Pride. It is a victory that was built on the founding of the organization almost five years ago after the murder of Jamar Clark in 2015. This year’s protest demanded: Justice for George Floyd and all victims of police terror; defend Black trans folks; community control of police, and freedom for all political prisoners and the wrongfully incarcerated

Past Twin Cities Pride protests

This year marks the fourth year that the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark has held a protest of the corporate and cop-filled Twin Cities Pride festival. They began in 2017 after a community outcry after the non-guilty verdict of Jeronimo Yanez for the murder of Philando Castile. These demonstrations often coincide with cases like Thurman “June” Blevins who was killed in 2018 during Pride weekend. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, TCC4J knew an in-person Pride protest needed to be held.

How we won

Due to the pandemic, Twin Cities ‘corporate’ Pride changed to virtual events all month. This included their actual Pride parade. Again this year there was a large outcry from the community that the official Twin Cities Pride committee was tone-deaf to the wounds of the community after the murder of George Floyd. Requests were made by community to cancel the virtual event and direct the community to the Taking Back Pride march organized by the ad hoc coalition. This demand of the people was won.

This work was done in tandem with Rox Anderson of RARE Productions who has run the Power to the People stage during Twin Cities Pride.

Organizing during a pandemic

It has been reported that protests in Minnesota haven’t resulted in the spread of the coronavirus. This is due to the planning and precautions taken by the anti-police terror movement. However, indicators show that the coronavirus has been spread through the carelessness of the politicians succumbing to the demands of the business to reopen too soon, in particular, bars. At the Pride march, almost everyone wore a mask and organizers took other common sense safety measures.

Day of the protest

The day of the march, a large crowd gathered in front of the First Precinct station in downtown Minneapolis, which is next to the Gay 90s, one of the oldest gay bars in the Twin Cities. A dance party was held before the march line-up began. Black queer, trans, non-binary folks were called to lead the march along with families who lost loved ones to police terror. Beautification commenced of the First Precinct wall.

All speakers were LGBTQ+ and Black. They ranged from young Danny VanPelt, long-time TCC4J youth member, to elders of the community such as Rosanna Hudgins, a longtime LGBTQ+, women’s rights, union organizer and a chief in African yoruba orisha tradition. She opened the march with a speech and a blessing passing on the work of fighting and giving clarity for the fight ahead. Emcees were founding TCC4J member Lorretta VanPelt and Jae Yates who joined TCC4J due to the Pride organizing. The march ended at Loring Park with performances by BIPOC LGBTQ+ artists.

Cameras gone, the fighting spirit of Minneapolis still burns

In keeping with the militant spirit of the march, the activity of the day ended in a very special treat. Every year at Pride, homophobic bible-thumpers gather to shout their hate at Pride-goers. This year the people weren’t having it. At first the reactionaries were surrounded by a circle of protesters. This later escalated to their removal from the park grounds. The homophobic Christians shouted out about the park being public property, freedom of religion and free speech. They continued to try to make their way back into the park. However, they were stopped by a multi-national crowd of queer and trans people.

A Native person who observed the struggle stated, “This should have been happened. I been going to Pride since I was 15 years old. I’m now 45. It’s been 30 years that they have done this to us. There are so many of us and so few of them.” Another observer responded about past years, “But the police were protecting them.” The indigenous person responded, “Doesn’t matter, we still could have done it.” A third observer responded, “Yes we have always had the power to do it. It’s now because of the struggle for Justice for George Floyd that we are all understanding the true power of the people.” The observers agreed and continued to assist in the removal of the reactionaries until they surrendered and left the park.

The Taking Back Pride organizing committee and TCC4J vowed to continue the protest again the next year to further the fight for Justice for George Floyd, to defend Black trans folks, call for community control of the police, and to free them all.

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