Police Do Not Belong At Pride
The annual New York City Pride Parade just recently flooded the city streets with blurs of rainbows and the vibrations of dance music. Many people were in attendance, including members of the LGBT community, like myself, who felt an internal need to show up after the tragedy in Orlando. Personally, I haven’t felt the desire to attend a major pride parade in many years for a few different reasons, but there is one in particular that rubs me the wrong way. Pride started as a riot where our brothers and sisters fought back against police oppression in front of The Stonewall Inn. The parade that now makes its way past The Stonewall Inn is littered with NYPD officers who still, on a daily basis, harass, wrongfully imprison, and murder our LGBT brothers and sisters, especially those of color. These officers do not belong at our pride parades, and they most certainly do not have any right marching alonside a NYPD float in our parade. People may argue that gay and lesbian officers should be welcome to march in uniform, but I strongly disagree. Those officers did not choose to be gay, but they did choose to join and represent a racist and oppressive organization that destroys lives within our own community, as well as other minority communities. Possibly the worst of all, members of our community are sacrificing the radical, action-taking queer mentality that got us to where we are today, for a false sense of security and acceptance from the police. The problem is, that safety and acceptance genrally only applies to the white, cis-gender members of our community. During the AIDS epidemic our community was putting their freedom and their lives on the line to make a statement and stand up against unjust treatment. Now we have people who praise the police, march alongside them and stage die-ins, but only until those officers, or a parade coordinator, tells them to get up and keep it moving. Now is a time where we can not allow ourselves to be told how to act along the road to queer liberation, and we must not stop fighting until every member of our community is liberated.
One of the main reasons I haven’t felt the desire to attend a major pride parade in the recent years is because of the excessive police presence. The police in this country have never been here to protect us, they were created to protect rich white men and control the behaviors of minorities. Many police departments in America originated as “slave patrols” meant to maintain the economic order and help wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who they considered property. Even today, in 2016, they continue to hunt down, harass and murder members of minority communities. So my question is, why do we allow them to be present, let alone associated, with an event meant to push for equality and liberation? The despicable treatment cis-gender and heterosexual minorities face from the police, is also inflicted upon LGBT people of color and members of the transgender community. A UCLA report said that forty-eight percent of LGBT victims of violence, polled in a 2013 survey, reported experiencing police misconduct. As previously mentioned, The Stonewall Riots were incited by years of harassment and mistreatment of the LGBT community at the hands of the NYPD. The NYPD regularly raided the Stonewall Inn, lined up the patrons against the wall and checked their identification. In addition, the officers would then take the customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their gender, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. This type of treatment by the police still affects members of our community today, so why are we okay with it now?
There are countless stories of police officers around the country using anti-gay slurs while harassing or attacking LGBT people. Just last year, in June of 2015, Staten Island resident Louis Falcone answered his door to four NYPD officers who wouldn’t state why they were there. Instead they dragged him outside, beat him and smashed his face into the ground breaking his nose. After Falcone attempted to spit out the mud and blood one of the officers said “Don’t let him get it on you. The faggot probably has AIDS.” These types people have no right policing and/or participating in our parade. They can take their rainbow colored NYPD car and shove it up the ass of police commissioner Bill Bratton, who just before Pride this year said that his organization does NOT owe the LGBT community an apology for the way the NYPD has treated us in the past or present.
Pride, now more than ever, needs to return to its roots of politics and resistance. Luckily, this past Sunday at Toronto Pride, a brave LGBT contingent of Black Lives Matters activists did just that. They halted the enormous pride parade for 30 minutes demanding change. They highlighted the experiences that marginalized groups have at major pride events like that, vocalizing their opposition to floats accompanied by uniformed and armed officers. Officers who are a stark reminder of the brutality faced by the LGBT community and visible minorities. It sickens me to the core that people in attendance considered this “inappropriate”, booed them and even threw bottles while yelling at them to keep moving. The action that these activists took is a perfect example of what pride should look like. Instead we have people who don’t want to listen anymore, they want to party and ignore the suffering of our brothers and sisters because it does not affect them personally. That type of complacencey is unacceptable, and anyone who isn’t willing to hear the cries from within our own community, doesn’t deserve to be celebrating because they have nothing of legitimacy to be taking pride in.