RECLAIM PRIDE COALITION RESTORES REBELLIOUS SPIRIT OF ORIGINAL STONEWALL UPRISING TO ANNUAL NYC PRIDE MARCH
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Activists Topple Barricades and Ignore Wristband Requirements for Marchers
New York, NY — June 29, 2018 — While last Sunday’s LGBTQ Pride March was marked by the usual extraordinary delays, over-policing and disproportionate representation of corporations and politicians, Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC) made powerful statements against organizers Heritage of Pride’s (HOP) failure to address many of the group’s demands, including banning police from sections of the march, removing barricades that obstruct community participation, and the cancellation of wristband requirements and limitations on number of community group marchers.
About 50 members of RPC, a coalition of New York City-based LGBTQ activists who this year organized the larger Resistance Contingent of over 30 anti-Trump Administration activist groups, forced their way into the parade on West 17th Street and Eighth Avenue without wearing the required wristbands, vocally supporting hundreds of other unaffiliated parade goers who dismantled barriers and also entered without wristbands. Initially HOP volunteers and police tried to restore the barricades but the public again broke them down and established a “police-free zone,” chanting “Queers can’t deny it! Stonewall was a riot!” See video here and photos here.
At the HOP reviewing stand on Fifth Avenue at Eighth Street, RPC members tore up a massive, symbolic paper wristband and threw it at the reviewers’ feet, also pulling apart chains of colored wristbands and chanting “No wristbands! No barricades!”
Although HOP argued that the new, poorly planned route terminating in midtown Manhattan was selected as a means of shortening the usually nine-hour march, the march this year wound up being only 24 minutes shorter, according to multiple reports. Controversially, HOP also placed the Resistance Contingent much further back in the march, which meant activists faced long delays, not stepping off until after 5 p.m., missing televised coverage by ABC, and encountering long stretches with few spectators. Notably, HOP originally barred the contingent from marching this year, but RCP successfully demanded its re-admittance.
“We need a vital parade!” said veteran ACT UP activist Jim Eigo, who found several hours of waiting to join the march with the Resistance Contingent unbearable. “I guess I remember too well when the parades of the 1970s & 80s were politically and socially important grassroots events, when every little corner of the community could have its say. But now the amount of security and regimentation is sickening. The police presence, the wrist bands, the pens that were difficult to get into and out of all made it hard for me to enjoy, so I went home without marching,” he said.
At least one instance of aggressive policing at the usually peaceful event was reported, as was one conversation with a police officer who admitted that the march was highly overstaffed with officers, confirming accounts that said the route was abbreviated in order to cut NYPD overtime costs.
“Sylvia Rivera, Bob Kohler and Marsha P. Johnson would have been incensed at this travesty,” declared Jay W. Walker of RCP, as he referred to founders of the march.
This Saturday, June 30th, Reclaim Pride Coalition will debrief on the 2018 march and decide whether to press HOP for drastic changes to the march or to organize their own civil rights-oriented, community-based event in 2019. Next year is the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall (“World Pride”) and RPC has committed to ensuring that the forthcoming event do a far better job at honoring the march’s original themes of rebellion and community.
Groups Marching with the 2018 Resistance Contingent included:
ACT UP, Axios Eastern Orthodox LGBT Christians, BashBack NYC, Black and Pink, Campaign for NY Health, CBST, Gays Against Guns, Granny Peace Brigade, Health GAP, Housingworks, International Queers Against Nukes, International Socialist Organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, Judson Memorial Church, Little Rainbows, New Alternatives, New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG), NYC Democratic Socialists of America, Peace Action of NY State, People’s Power Assemblies, PNHP (Physicians For A National Healthcare Plan), QDEP, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Refuse Fascism, Revolting Lesbians, Rise and Resist, RUSA LGBT, Sing Out Louise, Spectrum, The New York City (dis)Order of Sisters & The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, VOCAL-NY (Voices of Community Activists & Leaders), Voices4, Worker’s World Party