September 11, 2016 at 4:05 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Groups protest racial profiling on Sept. 11 anniversary

checkpoint, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters block the intersection of 14th and U Streets, N.W., on Sept. 11, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

More than 60 people blocked the intersection of 14th and U Streets, N.W., on Sunday to protest racial profiling in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Members of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, KhushDC and GetEqual chanted; “Black Muslim lives matter,” “No justice, no peace, no racist police” and other slogans as they stood in the intersection adjacent to the Reeves Center for more than an hour.

Groups of protesters earlier in the day created five “checkpoints” in the U Street Corridor, Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan to highlight extra airport security screenings, denial of service to Muslims and other forms of discrimination in the 15 years since the Sept. 11 attacks. They also distributed petitions to passersby that urge Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to end these policies.

“As the LGBTQ community we know what it’s like to be singled out and have somebody make a judgment about who we are,” Angela Peoples, co-founder of GetEqual, told the Washington Blade before she and other protesters blocked the intersection. “As communities of color we know that our race is not separate from our gender identity, it’s not separate from our relationship, from our orientation. And in fact that we experience deepest sometimes the impacts of what profiling and criminalizing of queer and black and brown identities can mean.”

A man angrily confronted Peoples as she spoke into a megaphone while standing in the middle of the intersection. He also shouted at other protesters who were taking part in the protest.

A handful of passersby mocked the protesters, including one man who told them to vote for Donald Trump. Others who were in the area either expressed their support of did not acknowledge them.

Police officers who gathered around the intersection allowed the protest to take place. They diverted cars and other vehicles away from the area.

Lakshmi Sridaran of South Asian Americans Leading Together, which co-sponsored the protest, told the Blade that gate agents have asked her to open her suitcase before boarding flights. She said they have also asked her why she was traveling.

“It’s happened to me several time,” said Sridaran. “We wouldn’t look suspicious if I was a white person. I’m sure (there would have been) no questions.”

Obama acknowledges ‘diversity’ at Sept. 11 memorial service

The protest took place on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on board United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pa.

President Obama on Sunday spoke at the Sept. 11 memorial service at the Pentagon.

He noted the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and other terrorist attacks that have taken place in the U.S. since Sept. 11. Obama also appeared to reference the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric that has emerged against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“We reaffirm our character as a nation — a people drawn from every corner of the world, every color, every religion, every background — bound by a creed as old as our founding, e pluribus unum,” said Obama. “Out of many, we are one. For we know that our diversity — our patchwork heritage — is not a weakness; it is still, and always will be, one of our greatest strengths.”

“This is the America that was attacked that September morning,” he added. “This is the America that we must remain true to.”

Hillary Clinton was among those who attended a separate memorial at New York’s ground zero on Sunday.

She left the ceremony after 90 minutes because she became “overheated.” A video appears to show Clinton staffers holding her up as she entered a van that brought her to her daughter Chelsea’s Manhattan apartment.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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