Free the #BlackPride4

Free the #BlackPride4

State Repression and the Fight for Liberation in LGBT Spaces

February 12, 2018

The trial has concluded for the #BlackPride4; protestors who, with Black Queer & Intersectional Columbus and in solidarity with #NoJusticeNoPride, took direct action on June 17th of last year to disrupt the pride parade in Columbus—the second largest pride celebration in the Midwest.

The direct action by the Black Pride 4 sought to draw attention to “the violence against and erasure of black and brown queer and trans people, in particular the lack of space for black and brown people at pride festivals,” and to highlight the disproportionately high number of trans women of color that had been murdered already, only six months into 2017.

For peacefully protesting police violence in a city whose Division of Police killed at least 28 people (21 of whom were black) since 2013 and is facing over two dozen lawsuits, many of which are for civil rights violations, Wriply Bennet, Kendall Denton, Ashley Braxton, and DeAndre Antonio Miles-Hercules were arrested on charges including aggravated robbery, resisting arrest, causing harm to a police officer, failure to comply with a police officer’s order, and disorderly conduct. Bail was originally set at $100,000.

As of Monday, February 12, the trial has ended and the Black Pride 4 are awaiting a verdict.

During the trial, Stonewall Columbus, the organization responsible for coordinating Columbus pride- and whose name invokes the historic protest led by trans folks of color against police harassment - had the audacity to testify against the Black Pride 4.

The fact that these flimsy, politically-motivated charges even made it to a trial is disturbing, and demonstrates the significant obstacles faced by those seeking to undo the larger LGBT movement’s collusion with systems of White supremacy, state violence, and predatory capitalism. Further, the arrest and prosecution of activists exercising their right to protest at a pride parade makes clear the ways in which the most privileged members of the LGBT community have successfully aligned themselves with the interests of the state in pursuit of protection from the very agents of state violence whose harassment of trans and queer people of color gave birth to protests that evolved into pride “celebrations.”

LGBT spaces should be spaces that value and make room for the most marginalized members of our communities and encourage and support acts of resistance like those carried out by the #BlackPride4. Not spaces where activists are criminalized and attacked for speaking out.

Organizations that choose to name themselves after the Stonewall Riots should be supporting trans and queer people of color in their fight against police violence, not testifying against them. This is a desecration of the legacy of our ancestors.

The #BlackPride4 took action to draw attention to the violence and erasure of black and brown trans and queer folks within LGBT spaces. The fact that their actions were met with criminalization, violence, and laughter from white onlookers is a testament to the urgency of their message. Like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera before them, the #BlackPride4 are the latest in the trans and queer tradition of those who are most vulnerable and marginalized within our communities putting themselves on the line in pursuit of liberation for us all.

No Justice No Pride sends love and power to the #BlackPride4. Ya’ll should too.

No Justice No Pride Encouraged by Leadership Changes at Capital Pride Alliance

No Justice No Pride Encouraged by Leadership Changes at Capital Pride Alliance

These changes would not have come about without direct pressure applied by No Justice No Pride.

January 24, 2018

On Wednesday, January 24, the Capital Pride Alliance announced substantial changes to its leadership structure and board membership. No Justice No Pride released the following statement in response:

“We are encouraged to see Capital Pride taking steps to make its board more representative of the communities it serves,” said Emmelia Talarico, Chair of No Justice No Pride’s Steering Committee. “But make no mistake. These changes would not have come about without direct pressure applied by No Justice No Pride and our supporters.”

“In our interactions with Capital Pride’s new leadership, we have experienced a level of openness and communication that did not exist with their previous leadership. This is a step forward. Nonetheless, Capital Pride has its work cut out when it comes to making the transformative changes necessary to truly make Pride an event that the entire community can be proud of.”

“We look forward to working with Capital Pride’s new leadership to reach solutions regarding Capital Pride’s problematic sponsors who are invested in the marginalization of trans and queer people of color, and regarding Capital Pride’s collaboration with the Metro Police Department. Considering the significant uptick in MPD’s use of force against DC’s black residents — as outlined in MPD’s recent 2017 use of force report — it is now more important than ever to encourage those representing DC’s trans and queer communities to support alternatives to policing and apply pressure for significant, transformative police reform.”

“Our struggle to bring Pride back to its roots — as an event that speaks for the most marginalized in our communities, and is welcoming and supportive of everyone in DC’s trans and queer community — is not over. But this is a promising step forward.”

Contact: Drew Ambrogi