Protesters demanding ouster of cops and corporations halt SF Pride Parade

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, trans women leaders of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the gay rights movement that ensued, are rallying in New York City in 1973.

by Sam Moore

San Francisco’s pride parade was stopped for an hour Sunday when a group of protestors jumped over metal barricades and linked arms at Market and Taylor streets to demand the removal of cops and corporations from Pride events.

The protest was held by activists affiliated with the group Abolish ICE SF and began shortly after 11 a.m. An initial statement and list of demands were handed out by protestors.

“No longer can we sit on the sidelines,” the statement reads, “as SF Pride pretends to celebrate ‘Generations of Resistance’ on the 50th anniversary of the fight against police violence at the Stonewall Inn.” Their demands include permanently eliminating police and corporate presence at Pride celebrations, releasing incarcerated trans people from San Francisco county jails, and ending sweeps of homeless encampments in San Francisco.

A protest organized by Abolish ICE SF, calling for the elimination of cops and corporations from the huge, annual Pride Parade down Market Street, halted the parade for nearly an hour on June 30. This year’s march honors the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion that kicked off the movement for gay rights in 1969. – Photo: Liliana Michelena, KQED

The parade, which included over 250 marching contingents and drew a crowd of over 100,000, celebrated its 49th year yesterday with the theme “generations of resistance.”

The parade was halted for nearly an hour while protesters negotiated a settlement with Pride organizers right there in the middle of the Market Street-Taylor intersection to allow the parade to proceed. – Photo: Theofile Larcher, Special to SF Examiner

Kris Hayashi, the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, the largest national trans-led legal organization and one of the parade’s contingents, feels this year’s theme is especially pertinent given that this month is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

“For the TLC to march today,” Hayashi said, “is really to raise up the visibility for the ways in which trans communities are still under attack. There have been so many murders of Black trans women over the past month alone, and for us, pride is about saying that Stonewall is now, particularly for the trans community.”

Eleven Black trans women have been murdered in 2019. The average life expectancy of trans women in America, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, is between 30 to 35 years old.

Protesters sat and lay down in the middle of Market Street to make sure the parade stopped to consider their demands, leaving the large contingent of police not knowing what to do. – Photo: Michael Barba, Twitter

The Stonewall Riots, which occurred in New York City in 1969, are largely considered the catalyst for the modern LGBT rights movement. It was an uprising against police brutality, in an age when violent police raids on gay bars were common. The event is known to have been led by trans women of color, including activists ​Marsha P. Johnson​and ​Sylvia Rivera.

“We disrupted commercial Pride to honor and continue the legacy of our militant trans and queer ancestors, who fought, loved and rioted to make room for our existence today.”

“This is the anniversary of Stonewall,” Hayashi said prior to the start of the parade, “which was a protest against police brutality. Trans people, especially Black and Brown trans people, are still facing the violence of police brutality. I think particularly in this moment, when trans communities and so many other communities are under attack, pride needs to be about resistance, about fighting back, and for standing up for communities who are vulnerable in this moment.”

Two protestors were arrested and detained following their demonstration on Sunday, while others were forced behind the barricades by police wielding batons.

According to the statement and video footage, a young trans protestor who uses a cane for mobility was violently rushed by a group of cops during the struggle. Their cane was ripped away from them and they were slammed to the pavement by officers, then “dragged across the street and held in a twisted position for half an hour with their pants pulled down.” They required hospitalization following the protest.

Gobs of cops, reminiscent of the police response to Stonewall 50 years ago, arrested two protesters, one a young disabled trans person using a cane who was “dragged across the street and held in a twisted position for half an hour with (the protester’s) pants pulled down.” – Photo: Theofile Larcher, Special to SF Examiner

The parade resumed shortly after 12 p.m.

“The disruption of SF Pride was necessary to us,” the group posted on Instagram in a statement Tuesday, “because we refuse to allow the true origins and spirit of Pride to be forgotten and erased through corporate and state and city co-option. We refuse to idly let Pride and the real riotous spirit of Stonewall be corrupted into a corporate marketing scam controlled by the city and cops, and be transformed into a party for masses who don’t care about us as an LGBTQ2S community.”

The statement continues: “We refuse to idly let corporations and capitalist masses celebrate a facade of ‘equality and love’ without caring about the multitudinal ways our communities are hurting, lacking in resources, brutalized, terrorized, criminalized, incarcerated, erased. We disrupted commercial Pride to honor and continue the legacy of our militant trans and queer ancestors, who fought, loved and rioted to make room for our existence today.”

Sam Moore, a San Francisco State University journalism student, interned with the Bay View last semester. He can be reached at samoore2015@gmail.com.