June 14, 2017 at 5:25 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Parade protest could be ‘big expense’ for Capital Pride
Pride parade, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters blocked the Pride parade on Saturday, delaying some contingents for hours. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A decision by a group of protesters to block the path of the Capital Pride parade on June 10 in three separate locations could result in an additional “big expense” to the Capital Pride organization, according to its president, Bernie Delia.

Delia and Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos said the blocking of the parade carried out by the group No Justice No Pride delayed the completion of the parade by at least two hours if not longer.

Under a longstanding D.C. government policy for organizations sponsoring parades or festivals, organizers of those events are required to pay a fee to cover the costs of deploying police officers to oversee the closing of streets and redirecting motor vehicle traffic.

The police department’s Special Operations Division charges event organizers based on the number of officers required for an event and the amount of hours an event lasts, said police spokesperson Rachel Reid.

No Justice No Pride leaders said they conducted the parade blocking protest after Capital Pride officials declined to agree to two key demands by the group – that they prohibit uniformed police officers and certain corporations from marching or riding in floats in the parade.

The group’s spokesperson, Drew Ambrogi, said No Justice No Pride stopped the parade by deploying its members to stand in the path of the parade in front of three targeted contingents – the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit, a float sponsored by the Lockheed Martin defense contracting corporation, and a float sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank.

The group said it wanted uniformed police banned from the parade because they symbolize police abuse and oppression of LGBT people of color, especially transgender women of color.

A contingent of “queer black women of color stepped in front of the police to highlight the threat of abuse and state violence that LGBTQ2S people of color experience,” the group said in a statement.

No Justice No Pride members said Lockheed Martin and Wells Fargo were singled out because they symbolize defense contractors that build weapons of war and a bank that has helped to finance the Dakota Access Pipeline that, among other things, desecrated lands considered sacred to indigenous peoples and is harmful to the environment.

D.C. police, under the direction of Police Chief Peter Newsham, who was on the scene, chose not to arrest the protesters and instead rerouted the parade, which resulted in long delays in parade contingents reaching the end of the parade route at 14th and R Streets, N.W.

A D.C. Metropolitan Police Department statement in response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade said police anticipated the possibility of a disruption of the parade and were prepared to “ensure the safety and security of everyone involved while permitting everyone to exercise their First Amendment rights.”

The statement added, “It is our common practice to provide those exercising their First Amendment rights a safe and secure place to do so. As long as a First Amendment assembly is peaceful, MPD makes every effort to facilitate that expression of rights, while also ensuring the safety and security of the community.”

Delia told the Blade on Tuesday he couldn’t immediately provide a specific amount that Capital Pride would be required to pay the city due to the longer period in which police had to keep surrounding streets closed because of the protests.

“I don’t recall the exact figure,” he said referring to the overall cost of police services for street closings associated with the Capital Pride parade. “It’s a big expense,” he said.

Delia disputed claims by No Justice No Pride members that negotiations between Capital Pride and No Justice No Pride representatives took place at the site where the group blocked the parade for an hour or more. No Justice No Pride representatives said in a statement that Capital Pride refused to agree to any of the group’s demands.

“We engaged in discussions on Saturday night, but no one undertook any negotiations,” Delia said in a statement. “That time and that setting were not conducive to engaging in a meaningful dialogue that properly involves the entire community,” he said.

“The Capital Pride Alliance had repeatedly committed to continue to look at all the issues that have been raised, but we believe now is the time for us to work with other Washington, D.C. groups and broaden the conversation to find a way forward,” he said.

“After a weekend of events where hundreds of thousands of members of the LGBTQ+ community and allied community came together to protest, gather in community, and celebrate, it is time for the full breadth of organizations and LGBTQ+ communities that they serve, protect, and advocate for to collectively look at the challenges and opportunities before us,” Delia said in his statement.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • This is why we can’t have nice events.

  • Capital Pride should file charges and have #NoJusticeNoPride compensate for their losses.

  • Sue the individual members of NJNP to cover the expenses. Actions have consequences.

  • Why is an article based on “could” even considered newsworthy? By any true journalistic standard, it isn’t. Thus, the reader is left to question the editors’ motivation for publishing such a piece.

  • The money lost was Capital Pride’s own fault. No Justice No Pride came to them early enough so that changes they could make changes, and they dismissed us and our concerns. What did they think was going to happen? . . . that we would go home and cry because daddy said “no.” They need to get over themselves. No Justice No Pride’s concerns are important and they need to be addressed.

    • Nothing like threats and blackmail. Go demonstrate against your actual enemies.

    • Their demands are outrageous and most of them not even possible. You don’t get to barge into an organization and start making threats and blackmail, then be absolved of your guilt when your petty protest costs the group money. Sadly, these people don’t have any money so there’s little chance of recouping it. But I’d say the next time this group gets it in their mind to do this again, they be shown a lot less tolerance.

    • Um…that fact that you brought your “concerns” to them does not obligate them to indulge those concerns. Just like when you ask Daddy, the answer can be “yes” OR “no”. Now you’ve pitched your tantrum about receiving an answer you didn’t like and should rightly have to face the consequences of that tantrum.

    • WOW! Y’all’s true colors are showing . . . Please take a moment to reflect.

      For some members of the LGBTQIA2S community, their struggle is literally life and death . . . EVERY DAY. If you are critical of the actions of No Justice No Pride, then you were never an ally to the entire transgender community or queer people of color.

      It is important for those of us in positions of privilege to check our privilege . . . whether it be race, gender, class, financial, education, etc . . . before we are critical of political actions that have brought the racism, classism, transphobia, and colonialism to the surface of the LGBTQIA2S.

      Please take a moment to reflect on the slight inconvenience you may have experienced on a Saturday afternoon when compared with being afraid for your life every single day.

      Do any of the queers here remember the fear you felt when forced to live in the closet?

      Now imagine NOT having that closet because you can’t hide your skin color or your gender.

  • Now that police expenses are involved, the amount of time DC Pride claims the parade was delayed has risen precipitously. Earliest reports claimed the parade was only slightly delayed, given the preparation of DC Pride and cops. Then it was described as “an hour or more” just yesterday by The Blade. And now, “at least two hours if not longer,” now that there are costs involved. Really? Wasn’t this the largest Pride parade ever in DC, which typically last hours anyway? Aren’t you blaming protestors for your infinite parade as a way to further vilify them? I don’t agree with their demands, but I sure do support their first amendment rights.

    • I was toward the end of the route, we waited for an hour before we knew anything. At 7;30, we had yet to see even half the parade, most people gave up and left. First amendment rights are one thing but those rights don’t include a right to disrupt public events and cause financial damages to community organizations. They can have their free speech in a location that doesn’t disrupt the parade. Their goal was not really about free speech, their goal WAS TO DISRUPT the parade. Speech was just the excuse.

      • Good point and if they can get away with this why can’t anti-gay protestors do the same?

        Can you do the same at the March for life for abortion protestors or the Faith and Values conference and call it just first amendment rights protest? We’ve always had counter demonstrators segregated from us.

  • These people don’t care. They don’t have money and don’t think anyone else should either. What they really want is to make pride a party all to themselves and if the organization goes bankrupt in the process, they’ll be just fine. It’s a really selfish and self-righteous plucky little group they have assembled, to rage against the machine. *eyeroll*

  • There are pictures and videos of CP negotiating with NJNP. The last blockade stayed in position for maybe 2 hours. Around 9PM CP agreed to 2 of the demands and agreed to come in good faith to negotiations with the organizers within 60 days
    Understandable that many in our community have complicated and differing opinions but at least give a factual overview of what happened so our community can engage honestly with our differing opinions

  • Since it was the police department’s decision not to arrest and remove the obstructions but to re-route and delay the parade, the police department is responsible for the delay.

  • So many direct quotes from Delia, so few from NJNP. Even if Delia’s quotes came from a press release, and NJNP didn’t submit one, it seems that fairer reporting would be achieved by balancing the amount of coverage. Lou, did you reach out to members of NJNP for comment on this story? Or if your editors felt that this story is more about the costs of the parade and it didn’t need opinions from NJNP, have you ran any stories about their feelings, actions, reactions to the protest? As a reader of the Blade, I’d be very interested in learning that information. Last point, it’s a little sensational to use Delia’s quote, “big expense” in the headline, when he can’t even recall what the amount is. Seems like you’re using his impression of what a “big expense” is without verifying it.

    • Disagree with giving NJNP more space just to “balance the amount of coverage.” This is important: everyone should know that, of the many tens of thousands of participants in Saturday’s Pride overall event, NJNP was significantly less than 1%. I was all over the Pride parade event, and also saw the NJNP protests. Giving the fairly small (though rude and screechy) NJNP protesters more coverage would have exaggerated their significance to the many readers who were not present, and thereby would have fed NJNP more of the attention and credibility they so desperately crave.

  • NJNP just did more damage to the gay community in DC then Trump or the Republicans could ever dream. Destroy the community events and destroy any sense of unity amongst the gay community! Divide and conquer!

    Congratulations NJNP, you do great work for your REAL enemies!

  • So . . . I have had several replies to comments deleted . . . It is clear that the moderators of this comment thread do no want to foster dialogue and choose to attack comments that do not align with theirs . . . How diplomatic.

  • If the police didn’t arrest the NJNP people ( and I don’t think they should have. I don’t agree with them, but it was their first amendment right) then why should Capital Pride be charged? It was the cheif’s decision.
    But it’s says “could be” and I agree with another posters. Lou’s reporting has gotten sloppy.
    Also from following this from fairly early on, Cathy Renna hasn’t done a very good job as a spokesperson for Pride. I know board members, volunteers, producers…she was hired for PR. And she never hiligthed the GOOD things. The Pride in DC is more than those 2 days. I recall the Pride 365 theme. There are Pride events year round.

  • There is a contingent of “activists” who accomplish nothing but try to destroy things out of spite. They should be arrested and fined. What gives them the right to issue “demands” to the entire community to put up with their petulant bullshit.

  • It’s really too bad you are out of touch with LGBTQ2S+ history . . . Have you forgotten Stonewall (a catalyst of the “Gay Revolution”) was a riot against the police led by trans women of color? Have you forgotten that ACT UP blocked Pride parades in the 1990s to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis?

    It must be nice (aka privileged) to be able to ignore our collective LGBTQ2S+ history so easily with QPOC are dying in the streets.

    I am secure in knowing which side of history NJNP stands on. Can you say the same with such bravado confidence?

    Finally, since when were you elected Czar allowing you to make decrees such as banning NJNP participants from Dupont/Logan and guaranteeing police presence in the parade?

    Check yourself man. Check your privilege. History is watching.

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