Milwaukee: Milwaukee: Coalition to March on the RNC protests far-right anti-trans personality Riley Gaines
Milwaukee, WI – Nearly 30 protesters with the Coalition to March on the RNC 2024 massed outside the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee on the evening of August 22 to protest Riley Gaines, a former collegiate swimmer turned right-wing anti-trans personality. Protesters chanted “Transphobic, anti-gay, Riley Gaines, go away!” “Can’t swim Riley” and “Sore loser Riley” as they picketed outside the hotel. They carried a large banner that read “Stop trans genocide” and received a great deal of support from passing cars and people walking by.
Gaines originally gained notoriety in March 2022 for protesting the fact that she lost to transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in a NCAA 500-yard freestyle championship swim meet. She parlayed this loss – which included a fifth place tie with Thomas during the same meet in the 200-yard freestyle category – into her current grift. She’s now the director of the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, has her own podcast, and is set for her own show on Fox News. She endorsed Florida governor Ron DeSantis for president.
Chrisley Carpio, a resident of Tampa, Florida who is facing ten years in prison and who is up against the type of political repression that Ron DeSantis personifies, was a special guest speaker at the event. She talked briefly about the Tampa 5, a group of young women activists that includes herself who were assaulted by police during a rally opposing cuts to DEI at the University of South Florida. She used this talking point to set up a broader message about the attacks on trans people in her state being championed by DeSantis.
“In Florida, we've seen more than half a dozen bills passed lately that deny the most basic things to trans people – and DeSantis started with the youth – from gender affirming healthcare, to gender expression in schools, to bathrooms, even to loving parents,” Carpio said. “We shouldn't wait for these attacks to spread from state to state, nor for Governor DeSantis to increase them as president. We should build a movement now, stomp out these transphobic policies, and sink DeSantis' presidential campaign before it takes off!”
Ahead of the first Republican primary debate, the nationally-recognized hate group Moms for Liberty, together with the Leadership Institute, held a couple of events on August 22. They would have had a third – a town hall with several of the Republican candidates for president – but two separate venues canceled the reservation as a result of community pressure.
With the Republican National Convention coming to Milwaukee in July of next year, many right-wing groups and personalities will be descending on the city over the coming months. Progressive forces are also getting organized to fight back against the racist and reactionary agenda of the Republicans, primarily through the Coalition to March on the RNC. The coalition has vowed to protest the Republicans and their surrogates at every turn whenever they come to Milwaukee.