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Minnesota takes back LGBTQ Pride from cops, corporations and genocide

By Jess Sundin

Protestors march through the street with an audience watching on the sidewalks. The march carries a large banner that reads "Take Back Pride. Stand Up, Fight Back".

Minneapolis, MN – For the seventh year running, community members disrupted the Twin Cities Pride parade, June 30, to protest the inclusion of cops and corporations. Their inclusion comes at the expense of queer community members who want the event to honor the spirit of radical resistance Pride came out of and to continue the fight for LGBTQ liberation. This year, more than 1000 protesters marched with the Taking Back Pride Coalition for not only LGBTQ liberation, but especially for Palestinian liberation.

TC Pride is one of the largest such events in the country, drawing hundreds of thousands of people. Taking Back Pride, a coalition initiated by Twin Cities Coalition for Justice (TCC4J), took the street in protest ahead of the corporate-sponsored parade.

The first Taking Back Pride protest focused on demanding an end to police presence in the parade and the festival, but organizers soon expanded their demands to address Pride’s failure to address the needs of Black, brown and indigenous community members, especially trans folks. They have long called on Pride to break ties with the corporations that dominate the parade and festival.

As TCC4J organizer Loretta VanPelt put it, “These corporations funnel millions of dollars into conservative campaigns and laws, they pollute the planet, they support war and genocide. Then once a year they throw a rainbow on their logo and think we’ll just forget all that. But we remember and we want to remind people that our rights as LGBT people are far from secure and that these corporations only care about us when we’re profitable.”

The first Pride march was held in New York City in 1970, marking one year after the Stonewall rebellion, when LGBTQ folks fought back against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar. The confrontation lasted five nights where, with bricks and molotov cocktails, the community fought back against police terror. This was the time when the LGBTQ liberation made strong connections to other movements, from the Black liberation movement to the movement to end U.S. war in Vietnam. Cities across the country continue to celebrate Pride, but most of these events, including in Minneapolis, have devolved to a party for tourists instead of a political event commemorating the Stonewall uprising against police brutality.

Hundreds of anti-trans bills are set to pass in the next year. Black and brown people continue to be brutalized and killed by police. 40,000 Palestinians have been murdered since October 7. Taking Back Pride Coalition organizers say TC Pride is complicit in these injustices, through silence, inaction and even making space for the FBI, the National Guard, and weapons manufacturers to participate.

A statement by organizers said, “We refuse to allow this disgusting pinkwashing of genocide to continue unchallenged. We march for a free Palestine and an end to all imperialist occupations, for substantive accountability for those impacted by police brutality through community control, for our queer and trans siblings who have been stolen by violence, and for true queer liberation. We march to honor the legacy of Black and brown trans women and nonbinary people who fought for the rights and acceptance of all LGBTQ people.”

Led by Bikers Riding Against Police Brutality (BRAPB), a social justice motorcycle group, and Fury du Nord – a queer and trans motorcycle riding club, protesters marched the same route as the corporate parade, to the beat of the Yalla Drum group and the Unlawful Assembly Marching Band. The corporate parade was delayed, as protesters stopped every few blocks for speakers and performance. One powerful stop was a die-in, where the names of trans people killed in the last year were read aloud. Parade organizers and security complained about delays, but most onlookers were supportive, joining in many of the chants. Some even left the sidelines and joined the march.

The protest ended with multiple actions inside the massive Pride festival at Loring Park. First, protesters took over the Stonewall Stage. Organizer Jae Yates explained the reason for the protest, and then Levi Lake spoke in tribute to Liara Tsai, a trans DJ who was killed just the week before.

Smaller groups broke off to disrupt problematic festival vendors. The FBI and the National Guard both had booths, aiming to recruit from the LGBTQ community. Protesters blocked their booths with massive banners and addressed the crowds of people about their role in oppressing people’s movements at home and abroad. Another group disrupted the Target corporation photobooth, by displaying images of Palestinian martyrs as a protest of the U.S.-backed genocide.

In addition to TCC4J, the Taking Back Pride Coalition includes Anti War Committee MN, Bikers Riding Against Police Brutality, Climate Justice Committee, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, MN Abortion Action Committee, MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee, MN Workers United, People’s Pride, UMN Students for a Democratic Society, Unlawful Assembly Marching Band, and Women Against Military Madness.

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