On Saturday, June 17th, a group of Black trans and queer activists were assaulted and pepper sprayed by the Columbus Police, and four of them arrested, while peacefully protesting during the Columbus Pride Parade.
The #BlackPride4 attempted to hold seven minutes of silence to represent the seven shots that killed Philando Castile, whose killer was acquitted by a jury the day prior to this protest. They were also raising awareness of the 14 trans women of color murdered this year in the U.S.
The violent actions taken by Columbus police illustrate that police forces have no interest in keeping Black and brown communities safeーespecially queer and trans communities of color. Pride draws its roots from the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, which was a rebellion against police brutality by queer folks of color. Now, almost 50 years later, the response of CPD reinforces the need to keep police out of Pride.
While the #BlackPride4 were being maced and arrested, white folks in the crowd laughed and cheered on the police. The photo that has been circulating bears a frightening resemblance to photos from the Civil Rights Movement of white onlookers protesting integration of schools and lunch counters. Those of us in SURJ Columbus who identify as LGBTQ know that the relative safety that many LGBTQ white folks feel today is due to decades of brave resistance by people like the #BlackPride4. Those of us who identify as LGBTQ within SURJ call upon our white siblings to join in the movement being built to support the #BlackPride4 and to call our white LGBTQ siblings in who may feel hesitant or who may downright deny the violence the #BlackPride4 have faced. The institution of white supremacy is killing Black LGBTQ people.
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Columbus unequivocally stands with the #BlackPride4 and we join them in demanding:
1. ALL charges against each of the #BlackPride4 protesters be dropped.
2. An investigation of the excessive force used by police against the non-violent #BlackPride4 protesters.
Dropping the charges and investigating the excessive force by the Columbus Police is the first step towards making a Columbus that’s safe for all. We know that if we remain silent in the times of oppression, we have chosen the side of the oppressor. To this end, we are calling on all those who are choosing the side of justice, the side of freedom, and who believe that another world is possible, to take bold action and join the struggle for collective liberation and show up alongside the #BlackPride4. We are strongest when we organize collectively and build power together.
We call on supporters of the #BlackPride4 to continue to donate to their legal defense and circulate their page throughout your networks. You can keep up with developments in the campaign by following Black, Queer & Intersectional Columbus (BQIC) on Facebook.
Showing Up for Racial Justice Columbus
Donate to the #BlackPride4 legal defense HERE.
SURJ believes in collective liberation — and that none of us can be free until we end white supremacy. White supremacy is integral to economic injustice, to maintaining patriarchy and other forms of oppression. Racism and white supremacy keep the many divided for the benefit of the few. We must have an inclusive, open-hearted approach to organizing, calling people into this work. SURJ’s role as part of a multi-racial movement is to undermine white support for white supremacy and to help build a racially just society.