Police Should Not Be In Pride Parades

Police Should Not Be In Pride Parades

Pride should not accept police brutality.
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In 1969, the NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn. Raids on gay bars were not uncommon at the time, but what made the raid on Stonewall unique was that the patrons of the bar fought back. The resulting riot, led by trans people of color, challenged police oppression of the queer community and is widely credited as the event that sparked the modern queer liberation struggle.

Now, 47 years later, the story has changed. Instead of resisting the police, the mainstream LGBTQ movement embraces them. At New York’s annual Pride Parade, the NYPD was given the opportunity to march in uniform and was even cheered on by a crowd of mostly white queer people. And New York is not alone. All across the U.S. and Canada, police departments are given the opportunity to march in uniform, in Pride parades.

Several organizations advocating for queer people of color have protested this arrangement. Most recently, the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter managed to interrupt Toronto’s Pride parade. They demanded that police floats be removed from Pride. Pride organizers initially agreed to their terms, but then backed down.

This has triggered a lot of reactionary racism amongst white queer people. What a lot of us white queer people simply don't get is that our whiteness shields us from many of the realities of police brutality. The response I heard from a lot of white queers was, "The police protect us so we shouldn't alienate them." What we don't get is that while the police may protect us, people of color are not given the same treatment.

Not all cops are bad, but the police as an institution are extremely oppressive. This has been the case since the creation of police as we know them today. Before the mid-19th century, communities generally organized their own police forces. This changed when the rising upper class needed a way to keep "social order" so that the capitalist system would be maintained. Thus, a centralized, bureaucratic police force was founded. This new police force was primarily used to crush strikes and other labor-related uprisings.

Police oppression has also always specifically targeted people of color -- black people especially. In the South, the first modern police force was the "slave patrol." The slave patrols had three primary responsibilities: to catch escaped slaves, to terrorize slaves to deter slave revolts and to punish any slave who did escape. As the 19th century went on, the slave patrols did not go away, even after the Civil War. In fact, many slave patrols went on to form the organizational structure of most Southern police forces.

And, of course, police oppression of black bodies continues to this day. We constantly see people like Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and so many others who are murdered for the simple crime of being black in the U.S. Last year, a study by the Washington Post found that even though black men only make up 6 percent of the population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed victims of police shootings. The Toronto P.D. specifically has a long and disturbing history of racism.

Queer people of color are especially likely to be victims of police violence. Trans women of color, black trans women in particular, have the highest chance of being targeted. A recent study found that trans women of color were seven times more likely than the general population to experience physical violence from the police. Another study found that 41 percent of black trans women and 25 percent of Latino/a/x trans women were arrested due to police profiling.

Thus, allowing police to march in Pride as they continue to brutalize queer people of color is in extremely bad taste. When we decide to allow police at Pride, we are accepting and even endorsing police oppression.

Plus, allowing police to march in Pride compromises the safety of queer people of color who may want to participate in Pride. Fifty percent of queer people of color have reported feeling unsafe interacting with police officers, due to police oppression. Allowing police to march in Pride shows a very clear lack of respect for those concerns.

Some people have argued that stopping police from marching would be analogous to discrimination. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the police are not an oppressed group. Second, if a queer officer wants to got to Pride, I am not saying they shouldn't be able to. I'm just saying they should leave their uniform and badge at home.

I have also heard the argument that excluding police from Pride would cause a wedge between police and queer people, which would make police brutality worse. But there seems to be no evidence to support this claim. Police have been marching in Pride for several years and yet, continue to oppress queer people of color. The only thing allowing police to march in Pride does is it allows police departments to maintain the illusion of how progressive they are.

Finally, I've heard the argument that not all cops are bad so we shouldn't vilify them. But I think this argument misses the point. Sure, individual cops can be well intentioned and may truly want to help people. But, as an institution, police are extremely oppressive because that is simply what they were designed to be. You don't need to say that every individual cop is a monster to say that the institution of police is oppressive. And again, individual cops can come and show their support at Pride, they should just leave their uniform at home.

By accepting police at Pride, we tacitly reinforce police oppression. We further alienate queer people of color and ensure that queer liberation only works for white queers. If we really want an inclusive movement that works for all queer people, police simply need to go.

Cover Image Credit: Boing Boing

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

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Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

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