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LGBT Immigration Activists Interrupt Phoenix Pride

phoenix pride

Activists from a group called Trans Queer Pueblo stopped the Phoenix Pride Parade this weekend, demanding that organizers remove police from the parade and provide support to LGBT people of color and undocumented immigrants.

The group stopped the parade as the Phoenix Police Department's float began moving and blocked the Maricopa County sheriff's float, which was behind the police. Sheriff Paul Penzone was taken away in a vehicle during the protest. After stopping the parade, Trans Queer Pueblo received boos from attendees. Several people in attendance yelled "get out of our Pride" and "go home" to the protesters. Trans Queer Pueblo activists said they also heard people using racial slurs against them. 

Trans Queer Pueblo members had planned to hold up the parade until organizers agreed to meet with them, Fusion reports. After police warned the activists they would be arrested, the group moved out of the way. 

The group released a video prior to the parade that gave a history of Pride and how it began with trans women throwing bricks at Stonewall. The video asserted that Pride has gone from being a political demonstration to an event sponsored by corporations. It noted that Bank of America, one of the top sponsors of Pride, has been one of the largest funders of private prisons where immigrants are detained.

Before the parade, Justin Owen, executive director of Phoenix Pride, responded to Trans Queer Pueblo's announced plans by releasing a statement to Phoenix New Times, saying, “We are aware that there are still many causes that need attention, and we always stand willing to work with members of our community to end oppression and injustice of any kind of and against any individual or group. ... As always, we will welcome peaceful protests by those who wish to express their concerns about any issues of social justice." However, "interference with the parade route, or direct distortion of the parade and festival, will not be permitted, as a matter of safety for the public," he added. 

On a list of demands, Trans Queer Pueblo asked that Phoenix Pride "make pride safe for LGBTQ people of color by ending Pride collaboration with Police, ending sponsorships that finance the mass incarceration of communities of color and establishing a people of color led review of Pride festivities." The group also asked that Phoenix Pride "use Pride's influence in support of communities of color by supporting liberation campaigns for LGBTQ+ people in detention, demanding publicly that Mayor Stanton defy SB 1070 and end operation order 4.48, and publicly demanding an end to manifestation law that criminalizes trans people of color." The references are to an immigration law and a "manifesting prostitution" law.

Black Lives Matter engaged in a similar action last July. The group interrupted Toronto Pride and presented a list of demands. Like Trans Queer Pueblo, the group requested that future parades not include a police presence or a police float. 

Los Angeles Pride announced this year that instead of its annual parade, the organization will host a protest march.

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