At Saturday's Columbus Pride march, a group numbering around 75 socialists marched against corporations’ stronghold on and the heavy presence of police officers at the celebration, which stems from its radical origins at the Stonewall Riot. As we prepared to start marching, we learned that a group of Black queer activists, numbering around 10, attempted to bring the parade to a halt: they sought to bring attention to the murder of #PhilandoCastile and the ruling which declared the police officer who murdered him not guilty. They also sought to bring attention to police violence done onto trans women of color.
Once we discovered that one of our comrades had been maced alongside the rest of the activists and 4 had been wrongly detained, our march came to a bitter start, especially once we learned that parade onlookers had cheered the police on. Pictures circulating of the accident show grotesque numbers of police piled on top of protestors. Those who were maced could not breathe or see for a sustained period, and no medical attention was awarded. Those detained were held in the back of police vehicles for four hours following the event and also received no medical attention. While three were released Saturday night, one remained in holding until Monday morning, released after bail was posted. The activist that was in holding is being charged with aggravated robbery, a felony charge.
As revolutionary socialists we stand in unconditional solidarity with the #BlackPride4 and their tremendous courage displayed this past weekend. We vehemently oppose violence and discrimination done against queer people. We equally oppose police brutality, as well as officers' presence at Pride. Pride began as a riot, with trans women of color leading the resistance. Celebrations of queer people across the country are all marked by this radical history. To allow police in such brute attendance at Columbus' Pride parade, let alone allow them to remain unchecked and unaccountable to the people they purport to serve -- a significant portion of whom are queer, of color, or both -- is unacceptable, and must be opposed.
Organizers from the #BlackPride4 demanded the immediate release of Deandre, and continue to demand the dropping of all charges or pending charges against each of the #BlackPride4, and an investigation into the use of excessive force of CPD onto the protesters. Our movement has a long way to go before we can begin to qualitatively change the conditions which permit this to occur.