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The demand hasn't changed: No cops at Pride, no pride in killer cops

Commentary by Autumn Lake and Jae Yates |
June 21, 2022
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Minneapolis, MN - As the LGBTQ community prepares for the final week of Pride month, it is as important as ever to uphold the tradition of resistance of the Stonewall Rebellion and the LGBTQ movement it spawned. This means it is imperative to take a righteous stand against police terror and the rise in political and physical attacks against the LGBTQ community.

In 2022 alone 36 state legislatures have introduced over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills, with eight of those states passing laws that target transgender youth. Anti-LGBTQ activity increased from 15 documented cases of anti-LGBTQ demonstrations, sexual violence, non-sexual attacks and mob violence in 2020, to 61 documented cases in 2021: a 306% increase. With 33 cases taking place so far this year, 2022 is on track to be even worse.

Most notable is the arrest of 31 members of the Neo-Nazi Patriot Front organization that was planning to attack a Pride celebration in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. This incident, along with attacks perpetrated by self-described Christian Fascists and Proud Boys, have led some elements within the LGBTQ community to call for police cooperation during the remaining Pride events this year.

This sentiment is misguided. The arrest of Patriot Front members, theoretically preventing them from committing violence against LGBTQ people, is an outlier that in no way contradicts the role of police as a uniquely violent institution that targets our most vulnerable communities. Police have killed over 1000 people this past year, with killings of Black, Native American, Chicano and other oppressed nationalities occurring at a much higher proportion to white Americans. When they are not playing ally once per year, police in the U.S. continue to assault and arrest protesters, subvert attempts at accountability, and enact violence against vulnerable communities - including LGBTQ communities - in order to protect property.

In one of the first ever publicized police attacks on the LGBTQ community, members of the newly founded Society of Human Rights, a gay rights organization, were attacked and arrested without a warrant on claims of potential obscenity in 1924. The group disbanded shortly after.

More well known, however, is the historic Black- and trans-led rebellion against police terror that took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York in 1969. Led by queer militants such as Stormé DeLarverie, Silvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, this rebellion was not in response to the one raid on June 28, but rather against the ongoing campaign of harassment and violence by the police and other violent actors. Regular attacks and raids of any publicly visible gathering of LGBTQ people by the police were commonplace all over the U.S., leading up to the Stonewall Rebellion.

A 2018 report from the National Coalition of Antiviolence Programs indicated that 66% of all LGBTQ people who reported violence to the police were met with either indifference or hostility, with most violence going unreported in the first place due to mistrust of the police. The same report indicates that Black LGBTQ people are three times more likely to experience police violence than non-Black LGBTQ people.

The calls for increased police presence and cooperation at Pride events also requires that vulnerable communities ignore that police in the U.S. don’t usually protect people from right-wing harassment and terror. Police were accused of standing idly by while white supremacists intimidated and shouted down members of the local Black, oppressed nationalities, and LGBTQ communities during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. A member of that coalition, James Alex Fields Jr., would use his vehicle to drive into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 35 other people.

In the Twin Cities of Minnesota, right-wing groups such as Bikers for Trump regularly attempted to harass, intimidate and even infiltrate protests held by anti-war organizations, the movement for Black lives, immigrant rights groups, and local labor unions. In all cases, it was solely up to the community and the progressive organizations present to protect people from direct harm and harassment, as the police didn’t dare get involved.

Police are even less likely to intervene when life is on the line; the police’s failure to intervene in school shootings in places like Parkland, Florida and Uvalde, Texas make it clear that, even when the situation is dire, police are likely to hesitate or refuse to take action. Under precedents set by the Supreme Court, police in the U.S. are under no obligation to render assistance in the first place.

So long as police in the U.S. remain an active threat to Black and other oppressed nationality and LGBTQ communities, and so long as they continue to be ineffective at preventing white supremacist and anti-LGBTQ violence, the LGBTQ rights movement must remain resolute in demanding that police are not allowed at Pride. One isolated incident in Idaho has not undone a century of anti-LGBTQ violence by U.S. police forces. The demand is still for Pride to return to its radical Black-led, Trans-led, anti-cop, and anti-corporate roots!

A coalition of student, community, and labor groups from Minneapolis-Saint Paul, led by Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar will be taking the street ahead of Minneapolis’ corporate Pride parade on June 26 at 10:30 a.m., at 10th Street and Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. TCC4J and the rest of the coalition will be marching to defend Black trans folks, organize for community control of the police, and demand that cops no longer be allowed at Pride.

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