Pride festival features MPD in repudiation of No Justice No Pride’s message

Two years ago, No Justice No Pride blocked MPD, Lockheed-Martin, and Wells Fargo’s contingents in the Capitol Pride parade. While negotiations and promises resulted and the lead contingents of the parade were real community groups this year, much of the core message has been ignored. MPD’s “special Liason branch” was given a display position right at the entrance to the 2019 Capitol Pride festival. This is a direct repudiation of NJNP’s “no cops at Pride” posture.

In another repudiation of No Justice No Pride’s demands, Wells Fargo bank was listed as one of the sponsors again. Wells Fargo is infamous for both predatory lending and for their funding of the GEO Group, which is a private prison operator. GEO Group’s prisons are used by ICE and are also infamous for abuse of transgender people held captive in their dungeons.

Inviting Wells Fargo and GEO Group to Pride is equivalent to inviting not only the NYPD Vice Squad but their jailers too back to the Stonewall Inn. A combination of parade participant Mayor Bowser’s housing policies, Wells’s Fargo’s lending policies, MPD’s crackdowns on sex workers, and the Geo Group’s prisons to put sex workers in can be a very effective engine for replacing sex workers with shiny new condos for “New Washingtonians.” Almost everyone who fought at Stonewall would be on the menu and not at the table for this. It is no wonder the Dyke March had to march explicitly against displacement and for decriminalization of sex work. Nowhere did Capitol Pride make either demand.

Also present at the Festival was Gilead, the Big Pharma infamous for charging almost $100,000 for a full course of their drug to treat Hepatitis C. That infection is now entirely curable, but ONLY for those with $80,000 or more to spare or lots of health insurance coverage for high-priced, patented prescription drugs. Presumably Gilead does not discriminate, charging anyone with Hepatitis C the same outrageous prices no matter what their sexuality?

While the expected community groups were present at the festival, they were seriously outnumbered by corporate booths even though the crowd at Pride did not appear to be mostly or even half suit-and-tie types. Had all the corporate booths been removed and nothing added back, the Festival would have fit in a much smaller space. Perhaps not surprisingly in this environment, at least one group of three Trump supporters showed up, one even daring to wear a racist MAGA hat in an environment where it should not be welcome. Nothing was done about the MAGA-hatted racists for fear of starting another stampede if matters escalated.

Those who want more cops in Pride and who repudiate the message of sex workers and transgender folks resisting police aggression at Stonewall will no doubt attempt to exploit the stampede of June 8, 2019 in any future negotiations with No Justice No Pride or other community groups. Of course, police played no role in doing anything that could have prevented the stampede, which was essentially an accident. WTOP News reported on June 9 that the person cops arrested for possession of a BB gun states that he pulled it out when someone assaulted his partner. Someone mistook him for an active shooter and the stampede was on, probably to his utter surprise.

MPD “special Liason Branch” booth at entrance to the Pride Festival. Only the center position at the entrance is more valuble

The first Pride was a riot-and though police were most certainly present they were NOT invited

Gilead charges $80,000 for a course of pills to treat hepatitis C. We thought $20,000 per year HIV treatments were Big Pharma greed!

In Seattle Amazon is best known for causing incredible rent hikes with their demand for housing. Now they will be pushing Latinx and low income families out of Arlington.

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False report of “active shooter” stemming from a fight causes stampede at Capitol Pride

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.

Video of the parade and stampede from three different camera angles 2 min 25 sec

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!

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DC Dyke March marches against displacement, demands sex work decriminalization

On the 7th of June, the first DC Dyke March since 2007 took to the streets around an overall demand of “Dykes against Displacement.” In addition there was considerable attention paid to demanding the decriminalization of sex work and sex workers. At the closing rally it was announced that a tenant’s union is being formed in DC

HD Video including sex work legalization chants, tenants union announcement 2 min 41 sec

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Kremlin Annex Protesters play audio of phone call by Michael Flynn’s attorney in front of White House

On the 6th of June, the Kremlin Annex protests for impeachment of Donald Trump featured an airing of just-released audio of a phone call by Michael Flynn’s attorney warning about Manifort’s plea deal and possible disclosure of information that could be bad for Trump’s case

HD Video-the tape is played, followed by reading of a transcript as the recording is muddy 4:20

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Sex worker decrim activists climb flagpoles at Wilson Building, SWAT pulls down banner

On the 3ed of June, a press conference at the Wilson Building was held to promote councilmember David Grosso’s bill to decriminalize sex work. On Freedom Plaza, activists scaled two 80 foot flagpoles and started hauling up a banner, but SWAT cops dragged it down while they were still climbing, placing their lives in danger. FOX News(of all sources) reports they even ordered the press conference to disperse.

Video of cops yanking down banner cut from longer SURJ-DC clip 31 sec

Photo by No Justice No Pride

Photo by No Justice No Pride

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Clarendon Cup bicycle race brings pro bike racers to Arlington

The Clarendon Cup has been run in Clarendon, VA since 1999. These racers showcase what is really possible on a bicycle, riding 100 laps in the space of two hours at high speed. This is what is known as a “Criterium” as it is a small, tight course. This particular race is seemingly always won by a breakaway that laps the field, and 2019 was no exception.

This year’s race moved from Saturday to Sunday and moved up a week to the first weekend of June, avoiding the date conflict with Capitol Pride in DC.

While the race has picked up the Air Force Association and Boeing as sponsors, bicycling still represents almost the exact opposite of the gas-guzzling ways of modern military aircraft. Yet it has been said that there is a little fighter pilot in every bike racer and even more so every bike messenger. The bikes used by pro-level racers can cost $6000-$10,000 and are to what most people ride rather as Formula 1 cars are to commuter cars. The difference is of course that all-out race bikes can be (and often are) ridden on the street in normal traffic.

Many in the activist and progressive community rely on the bicycle as primary transportation, and some of us ride to battle against neo-Nazis and other dangerous enemies on them. To see this sort of speed and coordination on bicycles is always an inspiration. If the US Air Force starts bombing Iran or Venezuala, you can bet lots of folks who will be opposing that war every way they can will be relying on the bicycle to get to and from protests and direct actions without using the loot from a war for oil.

HD Video-highlights of the race and how it was won 5 min 34 sec

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Code Pink demands Lush cosmetics close their stores in Saudi Arabia

On the first of June, Code Pink showed up outside the Lush Cosmetics stores on M st in Georgetown around the corner from the Embassy of Venezuala. They were there to demand that Lush shut down their two stores in Saudi Arabia, where women are tortured and imprisoned for protesting male guardianship laws and other misogynist Saudi oppression.These laws have been called gender apartheid.

Lush has already withdrawn from Israel in response to the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) campaign against that country’s aparthied laws targetting Palestinians. Israel is of course by no means the only human rights violator in the Middle East, and Code Pink is well aware of that. Saudi Arabia is one of the last absolute monarchies on Earth as well as quite possibly the worst country on Earth to be born a woman in. Saudi Arabia is infamous for their “male guardianship” requirement against women, which forbid women from making any important decisions (other than fleeing the country over the objection of the government) with the consent of a male relative. Code Pink said at the protest that there is “Nothing Lush about torturing women” who object to these policies.

Code Pink pointed out that Lush’s “bath bombs” are not exactly the kind of bombs Saudi Arabia and their stooges are dropping on Yemen, which due to Saudi intervention in their civil war is now being called the worst humanitarian crisis on the entire planet.

After the protest at Lush, Code Pink protested a second time at the nearly and entirely unmarked building housing the Saudi military attache’s office. This is on 30th street within sight of the Venezualan Embassy in which Code Pink withstood a 37 day siege while defending the building against the US backed supporters of three time failed coup plotter Juan Guaido. Yes, Code Pink paid a quick visit to what now may be the only embassy in DC that cannot issue passports or visas, or indeed any document that would be recognized at their own country’s border.

Getting Lush to abandon Saudi Arabia might not seem to be a direct threat to the Saudi monarchy, but BDS campaigns against Saudi Arabia start racking up wins, the oil companies could well face pressure to stop buying Saudi oil. It was BDS that played a major role in forcing an end to racial apartheid in South Africa, and the government of Israel treats BDS as a serious threat to their policies and rule. Saudi Arabia had better listen too: If this gets going, oil companies may have to boycott Saudi oil or risk women drivers boycotting their gas stations. Saudi Arabia would have to drop their male guardianship laws or watch their whole economy dry up and blow away.

HD Video-Code Pink protests at Lush’s Georgetown store 1 min 15 sec

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