After Floyd killing, Twin Cities Pride celebration to take on new meaning this year

Event calls for a return to the roots of Pride

A protester waves the Pride Flag in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Leigh Finke waves the Transgender Pride flag in solidarity with Black Lives Matter among protesters who gathered outside Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison's office in downtown St. Paul on June 5, 2020.
Liam James Doyle for MPR News file

The organizers of the Twin Cities Pride festival were all set to celebrate virtually when the pandemic hit. But after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, they decided to cancel.

On their event’s website, organizers wrote, “We do not feel a celebratory Pride Parade is appropriate at this time, and the inclusivity of all community members will be the focus of our events moving forward.”

They encouraged would-be attendees to instead join another march — this one in-person — called Taking Back Pride.

Taking Back Pride, which is scheduled to be held Sunday in Minneapolis, began four years ago in protest of the police presence at the annual late-June Twin Cities Pride parade, after a jury acquitted police officer Jeronimo Yanez of all charges in the death of Philando Castile. The verdict came less than two weeks before the Pride celebration that year.

Taking Back Pride, a collaboration of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar and 19 other organizations, has protested the police presence at Pride every year since. This year, the march within the march is now a standalone event.

Sam Martinez, an organizer with Taking Back Pride and the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar said the event is a way to lift up Black transgender people in the community, pointing to the violent deaths of Black transgender women that take place across the nation. The Human Rights Campaign, reports that 16 transgender and gender nonconforming people have been violently killed in the Unites States this year — and note that many killings of transgender and gender nonconforming people are misreported, unreported or unresolved.

“It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color — particularly Black transgender women,” the Human Rights Campaign wrote in a 2018 report. Its findings conclude that four out of five anti-transgender homicides are of trans women of color — and that cultural marginalization and invisibility lead to increased violence. One of the goals of Taking Back Pride is to center Black transgender people and increase their visibility in the LGBTQ movement.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pride celebrations. The first Pride was held in 1970, the year after New York City’s Stonewall Riots, during which gay and transgender people clashed with police for three nights, protesting the violence they suffered at the hands of the New York Police Department.

Martinez is critical of modern-day Pride marches that allow police to participate in the logistics of their celebrations. They said the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter and activists calling for justice for George Floyd all share a common goal: to end the killings of their community members at the hands of police officers.

The name Taking Back Pride, they say, is meant “to bring back the roots of what Pride is.”

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