Black Lives Matter solidarity march no longer being organized by L.A. Pride

It was recently announced that the L.A. Pride March and it’s main organizing group, Christopher Street West (CSW), will no longer be organizing L.A. Pride’s Black solidarity march after CSW asked police for a special event permit against the wishes of the local Black Lives Matter chapter. The All Black Lives Matter march will still proceed, but without any association to L.A. Pride.

L.A. Pride was set to re-emerge on June 14 as L.A. Pride’s Black solidarity march, after initially being postponed and then canceled because of the coronavirus epidemic. The point of the march was to further call the nation together in protest against police brutality, which most recently claimed the life of 46-year-old George Floyd, who was murdered at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 31.

According to LGBTQ Nation, Queer journalist Fran Tirado posted a letter to Twitter on June 4 showing that CSW event producer Jeff Consoletti, a white gay man, had recently asked the Los Angeles Police Department for a special event permit.

Fifty years ago, L.A. Pride was the first pride parade to secure a permit from the local police department. In his request for a permit, Consoletti noted that the history of the group’s relationship with police has “demonstrated a strong and unified partnership with law enforcement.”

Although securing a police permit for hosting such public events is required, Black community members and racial justice advocates were outraged that Consoletti is “working with police,” without the input of the local Black Lives Matter chapter.

Though opposition to a request for police presence may seem odd to many, Black communities have long suffered generations’ worth of pain and trauma under systemic and institutional racism at the hands of police. For some, the very presence of a police officer is threatening. Many feel like having police present at the march defeats the purpose of having an event opposing the pervasive and corrosive presence of police in Black lives.

The letter received widespread criticism for involving police without consulting the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter. Critics have been floating plans of organizing an alternative march to counter L.A. Pride’s police presence, but CSW initially said it had “no intention of asking LAPD” to attend. CSW announced four days later that it would no longer be organizing the event.

Consoletti wrote that CSW had “assured me they had the support of the Black queer community for their event, but it has become clear that is not entirely the case.” In a public letter, CSW said that the idea for the solidarity march came after speaking with Black LGBTQ+ leaders, but it “had not been able to align directly” with L.A.’s Black Lives Matter chapter before announcing the solidarity march.

“For that, we apologize to the Black Lives Matter organizers,” CSW wrote. “Subsequently an Advisory Board of Black LGBTQ+ leaders has formed to lead the upcoming All Black Lives Matter solidarity march.”

CSW says it “will continue to work with the new Advisory Board to examine internal policy and further diversify its Board to include more voices and perspectives from the Black LGBTQ+ community,” but it emphasized, “This is not a Pride Parade or celebration event. This is a solidarity protest march and there will be no corporate participation.”

CSW also clarified that “Permits that were filed during initial planning have been withdrawn and there will be no police or city law officials involved in any capacity.”

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.