Article by John Zangas of DC Media Group
Video by Ford Fischer and Alejandro Alvarez
Drawing spirit from the LGBTQ resistance roots of the Stonewall protests of the late 1960s, an ad-hoc group of activists under the banner of No Justice No Pride, staged a series of spectacular blockades of the 42nd D.C. Capital Pride parade Saturday afternoon.
There were three separate blockades representing major concerns of the three groups that say they have been marginalized by Capital Pride organizers and sponsors. Black Live Matter LGBTQ persons protested the police sponsorship of Pride and LGBTQ war resistors protested the military sponsors of Pride, while indigenous and immigrant LGBTQ persons protested bank sponsors for their oppressive prison, pipeline and anti-immigration funding.
One group of activists, representing Black Lives Matter, blockaded the Pride parade near the main stage of festivities, shutting it down for two hours. Capital Pride staff were forced to scramble and reroute the parade while over 25 activists cabled themselves together across P Street near where the judges were staged to evaluate Pride floats. The activists refused to yield to demands to move aside.
Activists protest D.C. Metropolitan Police by blockading them as they tried to march past the main stage in the Pride parade.
The activists began their blockage just after the first few floats had passed. But as the D.C. Metropolitan Police Fraternal Order of Police union passed, activists jumped between police participating in the parade and their banner, cabling themselves together, and refusing to yield. Frustrated D.C. capital Pride ushers pleaded with them to move so police and floats could pass. Backup police moved in with barricades and cordoned off the activists while videotaping them. There were no arrests.
The ad-hoc collective of Black Lives Matter organizers called out DC Capital Pride on its corporate sponsorship, its marginalization of minorities during parade planning, its acceptance of endorsement by MPD, and continuing business as usual in an atmosphere of Trump Administration anti-LGBTQ policies.
“MPD can’t continue to do what they do to anybody and not have us there,” said April Goggins, one of the Blockade organizers.
Their banner read ‘No Pride In Police Violence’ with the language repeated in rainbow colors. In stark contrast, activists wore black pants and shirts with ‘Say Their Names” in bold letters.
April Goggins stands in front of a banner during a blockade of police at Pride.
A second Blockade of the Capital Pride parade was formed a few blocks away by war resistors also disrupting the procession for over an hour. Again police encircled the activists with barricades, while rerouting the parade a few blocks around it. There were no arrests reported at the second blockade either.
Many Pride attendees chanted along with the war resistors as they firmly held their place, shacked together with bear traps. But other Pride attendees were upset by the blockades. Activists handed out pink flyers explaining their actions.
War resistors also blockaded Capital Pride. Their banner was a message against war profiteering. A third blockade called out Capital Pride and its bank sponsorships by Wells Fargo and TD Bank. The third group of activists was also connected by bear traps and sat in the street, holding their ground while others held a banner reading ‘Wells Fargo = Native Genocide’.
It’s about taking back prides roots,” said Kayley Whalen, Digital Strategy Director with the task force. “A lot of pride’s message of activism and action has been swallowed up by a corporate pinkwash,” she said.
Whalen also said that the main purpose for no justice no pride activists to disrupt pride was that the corporate sponsorship interests have actually been hurting members of the LGBTQ community.