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#StillHere Alliance to protest police participation at Sacramento Pride on Sunday

The Capitol Mall will be the site of a demonstration at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Capitol Mall will be the site of a demonstration at 11 a.m. Sunday. Bee file

A demonstration against police presence at this weekend’s Sacramento Pride events will be held this Sunday at Capitol Mall.

Fifty years ago, plainclothes policemen raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, triggering a spontaneous uprising of the LGBTQ community against discriminatory violence. In Sacramento, a deal has been struck to allow police officers to march in the weekend’s Pride parade in full uniform.

Carlos Marquez, the Sacramento LGBT Community Center’s board president, said the strengthened alliance between the Center and the Sacramento Police Department is about “healing and propelling us forward.”

Not all members of the LGBTQ community agree.

In a news release, the #StillHere Alliance for Trans Rights claimed the Center’s agreement with the Sacramento Police Department is symptomatic of a broader marginalization of the LGBTQ community’s most vulnerable members, including transgender people, low-income people and people of color, particularly minorities.

“The LBGT Center has historically marginalized members of the Black and Brown community through exclusion and lack of leadership, participated in racist cultural appropriation and flagrant orientalism during The Red Dress Party, took out the ‘T’ in LGBT Center 10 years ago, and received contributions from corporate sponsors,” the Alliance said in the release.

“In February 2018, demands were created by a Black-led collective and presented to The Center. In response, the Center offered token gestures that marginally increased black participation. The QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) community, feeling completely sidelined, rallied together in forming the #StillHere Alliance for Trans Rights to dissent against the LGBT Center’s continued capitulation to racist, classist and transphobic violence.”

The Alliance denounced Sacramento Pride’s corporate sponsorship, entrance fees prohibiting the participation of low-income people and the recent concession to police participation, whether uniformed or not.

Therefore, the group will protest police presence and the Center’s concession this Sunday.

Police violence has fallen away from the mainstream of LGBTQ activism, but the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community continue to be subject to harassment by law enforcement officials. More than half (58 percent) of respondents to the 2015 Transgender Survey said they experienced some form of mistreatment – including verbal harassment, misgendering, and physical or sexual assault – at the hands of police who thought or knew they were transgender.

The survey found 57 percent of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable asking the police for help if they needed it.

Transphobic violence, when compounded by racial violence, is fatal: eight transgender people have been killed in the United States this year, and all of them – Dana Martin, 31, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, 27, Claire Legato, 21, Muhlaysia Booker, 23, Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40, Chynal Lindsey, 26, and a woman unnamed by the police – were black women.

The #StillHere Alliance is supported by Sacramento for Black Lives, the splinter group from Black Lives Matter, as well as the Anti Police-Terror Project, the Gender Health Center, the Sacramento chapter of Democratic Socialists of America and the Sacramento chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

“We owe it to all members of the LGBTQ community, especially those who are transgender or people of color, to ensure their voice is heard and their safety be paramount every day all day,” Steve Hansen, the city’s first openly gay City Council member, said in a joint news release from the Sacramento Police Department and the Center. “We also owe it to the LGBTQ officers and allies to recognize their pioneering role in opening up law enforcement careers to people of diverse backgrounds.”

The #StillHere Alliance’s news release came shortly before the Sacramento LGBT Community Center staff’s vote of no-confidence in the board of directors that supported police marching in Pride in uniform. Unlike the #StillHere Alliance, the staff accepted the participation of plainclothes police, rejecting only the presence of uniformed police.

The demonstration will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday at the entrance of Capitol Mall.

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