Detroit Pride 2019: Nazis, Rainbow Capitalism, and the DSA Response

Detroit DSA at Motor City Pride, with comrades from local anti-fascist groups.

Thousands of members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies descended on Hart Plaza for this year’s Motor City Pride. It was one of the largest and most diverse Pride events in years.

But glimpses of Trump’s America shone through the rainbows and revelry.

On Saturday, Day 1 of the festivities, 15-odd armed Nazis arrived chanting “Fuck You, Faggots” and “White Power.” They tore up a rainbow flag and urinated on an Israeli one, among other obscenities.

Rather than arresting the Nazis for disturbing the peace, or lewd conduct, or inciting violence, the Detroit Police Department chose to provide them with a police escort for their unpermitted protest. They would show no such courtesy to the anti-fascist groups — such as Food Not Class, Communist Workers League, Red Orchestra, Mitten Medics, and the Michigan-Detroit Political Action Network—who sought to defend the LGBTQ+ community.

Following Saturday’s disturbing display, Detroit DSA mobilized its members to show up in force for the parade to be held the following day. Two dozen DSA members heeded the call on Sunday. They carried a banner emblazoned with the playful slogan “Socialism Rules!” and held signs that read “Queers Against Capitalism” and “No Rainbow Capitalism.”

DSA jumped into the parade somewhere between Quicken Loans and Meridian Health. Photo: Jacob Yesh-Brockstein

The first 30 minutes of the parade featured an uninterrupted procession of corporate floats and branded marchers. TD Bank, Huntington Bank, Chase Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Meridian, Beaumont, Ford, GM, and on and on.

In response, DSA members shouted “Medicare for All” and passed out flyers that said “Tax the Rich” and “Queer Liberation, Not Rainbow Capitalism.”

DSA’s delegation was eventually joined by members from an assortment of anti-fascist groups who wanted to show a united left front against fascism. This apparently put the police on high alert. When DSA attempted to enter the parade, the contingent was told they had to “wait until the end.”

Undeterred, they took to the streets, and were met by cheers and applause from the crowd. Several marchers were physically and verbally accosted by police, but none were arrested. Nonetheless, DSA and members of other area anti-fascist groups were followed the entire length of the parade by roughly 5 uniformed DPD officers and 3 to 4 other plain-clothes law enforcement officials.

Police accompanied the DSA delegation, including the undercover officers (pictured to the right). Photo: Jacob Yesh-Brockstein

Following the parade, DSA members joined the Metro Detroit for Bernie table inside Hart Plaza. Members passed out Pride-themed stickers and pins and passers-by posed for pictures with a life-sized Bernie Sanders cut-out. More important, they talked to hundreds of curious visitors about socialism, the Green New Deal, and Medicare for All. Dozens of Pride-goers signed up to become involved with the Chapter.

Signing up socialists all day long at the Detroit DSA / Metro Detroit for Bernie tent.

Read our satirical take on being criticized for raining on the corporate parade at Motor City Pride here.