On the 8th of June, the Capitol Pride parade marched before a huge crowd of hundreds of thousands. Late in the parade at about 7:30PM a sudden panic sent the crowd into a full stampede to escape the area near Dupont Circle. The author of this story was on a bike and took cover behind a medic’s empty wheeled gurney to avoid being trampled or tripping others who would then in turn be trampled.
Twitter video shows a slower start to the stampede from Dupont Circle than what occurred at 21st and P st, where the start was seemingly instantanious and the crowd ran much faster. The initial retreat from Dupont looked orderly, from 21st and P it was utter chaos and a rout.
Reports on Twitter are that a gun was brandished but not fired. The Washington Examiner reports one person arrested and one gun taken by police. The same report also states seven people were taken to the hospital after being trampled in the stampede-and that “loud noises” resembling gunshots were heard. Fireworks in fact are often the first suspects in false reports of shootings and should not be used anywhere they can be mistaken for shots.
WTOP News reported those who ran first also yelled “Active shooter! Active shooter!” at which point those too far away to see the gun had no options but to run or take cover against any fire orginating in the direction people were running from.There was one claim on Twitter of an actual shooting covered by the mainstream media, but if that were true there would be hundreds of such reports, someone would probably have had a camera running when it happened, and there would have been more ambulances at the scene and probably the cops would have entirely cleared the block where it took place. Instead, some people remained inside Dupont Circle itself and others returned to the area with no issues. The last elements of the parade to pass the area of the incident hustled forward, and successfully reached the finishing point of the parade on 14th st, where it looked like nothing unusual had occurred at Pride at all. It is unknown to this author if the remaining parade elements behind the incident ever got off of P st to finish the route.
Had the June 8 panic been a real attack by an ISIS or neo-Nazi inspired gunman, it would have taken more than running away and trampling over other people for those closest to him to avoid being shot in the back. Most likely those capable of mounting effective resistance to what they thought was an attack were just too widely dispersed into a crowd of middle class (and upper class) GLBTQ folks who are used to relying on others to do their fighting for them. It is however also possible that those in the original fight may have been 15 or more feet away from anyone else, especially if the initial fight caused everyone else to back away before the gun was allegedly displayed. On the other hand, if anyone capable of fighting ran from contact range with someone they thought was an active shooter at Pride, they put themselves at risk of a bullet in the back, left what they though was an active shooter unopposed on the field, and by starting a stampede indirectly ensured actual injures to others. There have been stampedes at rock concerts that dealt out death and injury counts rivalling mass shooters themselves. I was placed in direct jeopardy because anyone with a bike, a cart full of goods, or worst of all a child in a stroller is especially vulnerable to being trampled down by a stampede at close range.
The parade itself had community contingents in the lead, though like in 2018 MPD marched well ahead of the entire parade over the route. The first actual contingent was Dykes on Bikes and the Outriders, followed by Darcars, which also was in motor vehicles so probably this was to get them out of the way. After that were a Latinx Pride contingent, a South Asian contingent, Black Pride, and others. Soon however came Mayor Bowser, infamous for her support of displacement, gentrification, and more cops in nonwhite communities. After her came the usual mix of traditional and corporate contingents normally seen at Pride. The false alarm of an “active shooter” caused by the alleged brandishging incident came just after a Disney contingent, one of the last contingents in the parade had passed the 21st and P st area.
Posters along the route said “Enjoying Pride?” Thank a sex worker!” This is literally true, as it was sex workers and transgender “street queens” (some of them homeless) who fought off and defeated the NYPD vice squad raid on the Stonewall Inn back on June 28, 1969. That was surely a much tougher fight than defeating one armed person who had no radio, no backup, and had not even engaged the overall crowd.
Also worth noting is that the upper class businessmen who want more police at Pride, a police parade contingent within Pride again (never mind what Stonewall was about), and more corporate sponsorship are almost certain to exploit the June 8 stampede for their own purposes. There were plenty of police around Pride, but their presence did nothing to prevent the stampede or otherwise keep people safe. Only those within close tackling range of whoever displayed the gun had any power to pre-empt the stampede, nobody else. Even that can cause an accidental shot(which again will cause a stampede), some things in life simply do not come with guarantees.
People fleeing Dupont Circle after the initial stampede had travelled about a block. No way to get a camera up any closer
Dupont Circle minutes after the stampede
P St after the stampede, unconfimed reports these contingents never got to finish
Earlier: Dykes on Bikes and the Outriders were the lead contingent
A pro-migrant parade contingent
What Pride is REALLY about
Like Pride? Thank the sex workers and transgender people who fought at Stonewall to make it possible!