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LA Pride’s Black Lives Matter protest criticized as tone deaf

LA Pride Black Lives Matter

Raymond Braun, right, poses for a photo with an attendee at the Salt Lake City Pride Parade and Festival in Utah on
June 3, 2018. Photo by Kim Raff.

LA Pride, under criticism for its bungled attempt to organize an event in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, said it might cancel the protest march after one of the officials in charge of planning the event abruptly quit and said that the group had misled him.

Earlier this week, Christopher Street West, the 501(c)3 nonprofit that produces the annual LA Pride Parade and Festival, said it would organize a solidarity march to protest racial injustice, systemic racism, and all forms of oppression. The announcement was initially well received, but then black activists, including Jasmyne Cannick, said that LA Pride didn’t outreach to the community about the protest.

In one Tweet, Cannick said, “This issue of Pride trying to co-opt the Movement for their own personal needs ain’t gonna happen in the name of Black folks. Have your pride — just don’t say it’s in solidarity with Blacks because we’d have been at the table when the decision was being made — not an afterthought.”

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The march is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. June 14 at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. The protesters will march to West Hollywood and end at the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica boulevards.

LA Pride said earlier this month that this year’s festival will be a virtual event and celebration recognizing the group’s 50th anniversary.

Adding insult to injury, LA Pride officials had been working with law enforcement to acquire a permit for the Black Lives Matter march. Activists were angered by that action because they had to educate Christopher Street West officials that it’s problematic to ask the Los Angeles Police Department for permission to have a march protesting police brutality. Christopher Street West has withdrawn their permit request from the police.

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On Friday afternoon, producer Jeff Consoletti, who had been planning the march, abruptly quit. Consoletti posted about his departure on social media.

His statement, in part, said that Christopher Street West “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…

“I apologize and now see that these actions demonstrated the type of privileged, passive, and systemic issues that permeate society today. Our desire to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement was not carefully thought through,” Consoletti said. “I am appreciative of the education I am receiving on how to be better and can see now that it is not right to take up space or attention from the conversation of racial inequality and the injustice Black people face from law enforcement.”

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Shortly after Consoletti’s announcement,  Christopher Street West went on their LA Pride social media to say that the protest is “being reevaluated” and that they made a colossal screw up.

“…we would like to apologize for missteps in our rush to create the June 14th solidarity march… In that truly well-intentioned effort, we realized that we did not first collaborate with enough key leaders and activists in the Black community that have been fighting on the frontlines. For that, we offer our sincerest apologies.”

Christopher Street West also admitted that going to the police for a permit was stupid.

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“…as we quickly mobilized this protest, we proceeded to approach the permitting as we would normally do with organizing the annual LA Pride Parade…we overlooked the direct police involvement that permitting involves. We understand that clearly goes against the demands for systemic police reform.”

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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