Anti-police protestors storm London Pride parade

Anti-police protestors storm London Pride parade
Queer activist group Lesbians and Gays support the Migrants staged a die-in at the Pride in London parade to protest the inclusion of police in the march.

Yesterday, July 2nd, activist group Lesbians and Gays support the Migrants halted the Pride in London parade. The action, which saw 40 of the group stage a die-in on the route of the parade near Piccadilly circus, was to protest the inclusion of the Metropolitan police in the event.

Dressed in all black with pink veils, the group stayed in situ on the ground just ahead of the Metropolitan police bloc for 23 minutes – one minute for every person who has died in Met police custody since the end of 2020.  The group chanted instructions for how to intervene in a police stop and search and held up banners saying “No pride in cops” and “No pride in borders”. Those watching the parade joined in chants of “No pride in cops”.

The action comes after sustained calls and pressure to bar the police from Pride in London, following similar such bans at pride marches in cities like New York and San Francisco. On Thursday 30th June Pride in London responded to the calls, which included an open letter organised by Lesbians and Gays support the Migrants, by telling uniformed police officers not to march. Non uniformed officers were still permitted to take part in the parade and marched with matching t-shirts with the police logo on them.

In the letter, which was signed by ACT UP, the Gay Liberation Front, and African Rainbow Family, campaigners set out a series of demands for this years pride event, which marks the 50th anniversary of the first pride in London. The demands included, no police or home office presence at pride, no participation from corporations who facilitate deportations or who fuel the climate crisis and the banning of groups who discriminate against particular marginalised members of the queer community, including trans communities and queer Muslims. The letter also demanded an end to costs for participation of grassroots groups and community members in pride, transparency around who is marching in the parade shared prior to the day of the march and calls for a revamping of the event to align with broader visions for queer liberation.

This year’s pride is the first since every member of Pride in London’s community advisory board resigned in March 2021, citing an alleged culture of bullying and a “hostile environment” for people of colour volunteers. Their resignation letter called for new leadership to take the organisation forward and for an independent investigation by the mayor’s office into allegations of marginalisation and bullying. It came shortly after several directors of the organisation also resigned citing the same concerns.

On today’s action Sam Björn, spokesperson for Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, said, “50 years ago LGBTQ+ people came together with a desire to overhaul the status quo and the belief that a better, kinder world is possible.

“We protested today because the police endanger our communities. They detain children of colour, rape women and arrest those of us at the sharpest end of society. Straight or gay, in matching rainbow t shirts or in uniform, that has to change. While we welcome Pride in London’s acknowledgement of police violence no amount of glitter can wash those stories away, and we won’t let them.”

Pride in London were approached for comment but had not responded at the time of publishing.

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