FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ***PRESS RELEASE***
IN RESPONSE TO INCREASED POLICING OF CIVIC CENTER, GRAND MARSHALS, AWARDEES WITHDRAW FROM PARTICIPATION IN PRIDE PARADE
Multiple Pride honorees state that increased policing and militarized security makes LGBTQI communities of color unsafe at Pride Celebration.
San Francisco, CA – In light of the recent announcement that PRIDE participants would be subject to increased policing, metal detectors and discretionary admittance, several Grand Marshals and awardees of the “racial & economic justice” themed event are withdrawing from participation in the Pride Parade or Civic Center activities because of the unsafe conditions created for our communities by law enforcement. In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting that took the lives of dozens of queer, trans and gender non-conforming people of color, many people in our community are afraid. For us, celebrating Pride this year meant choosing between the threat of homophobic vigilante violence and the threat of police violence. We had a tough decision to make, and ultimately we chose to keep our people safe by not participating in any event that would leave our communities vulnerable to either.
Grand Marshal Janetta Johnson, Executive Director of the TGI Justice Project- an organization by and for trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people in prisons, jails and detention centers - announced her decision to withdraw from the parade at a PRIDE press conference on Friday. “While I am thankful for this honor, and grateful to Pride for bringing our work to the front this year, the decision to add more police to Pride does not make me, or my community, more safe” Johnson said.
While honorees recognized the increased concerns about safety in light of the recent mass shooting in Orlando, several argued that a greater police presence would increase the likelihood of violence against queer and trans people of color. “In the Bay Area, and the rest of the country, Black communities experience real fear and terror at the hands of homophobic vigilantes and law enforcement, and we work every day to find solutions. We know the militarization of large-scale events only gives the illusion of safety. We are choosing to do the real work of building safe communities” said Shanelle Matthews, a member of Black Lives Matter, who also announced their withdrawal from the parade.
The St. James Infirmary, which was slated to receive the Heritage of Pride Award at the main stage on Sunday, echoed the concerns of the Grand Marshals. “LGBT sex workers are often victims of violence and exploitation at the hands of police” said Executive Director Stephany Ashley. “The increased police presence at Civic Center, as well as the ban on shopping carts and items typically belonging to marginally housed and homeless people will only make pride less safe and accessible to our communities. These policies do not reflect the theme of racial & economic justice which we sought to march under proudly.”
The move comes a week after Grand Marshals of the New Orleans Pride Parade, BreakOUT! announced they would not be marching because increased law enforcement made its members- predominantly young trans people of color- feel unsafe to do so. In addition to a 25% increase in local law enforcement (both in uniform and undercover), federal law enforcement agencies are also scheduled to be on site at the Civic Center events.
In closing Janetta Johnson thanked SF PRIDE for their collaboration and understanding, “I am so honored that the community selected me. It is important that other Black trans women, especially younger girls and especially formerly incarcerated Black trans women, know that we matter, our actions matter, that we can work together to create a different future. But I just don’t feel comfortable accepting being in this parade. I walk in my neighborhood and see so many people sleeping on the street. I know come Sunday, they won’t be allowed to be here and many will be in jail. Particularly, in the San Francisco County Jail, where one of my Sisters, Athena Cadence, is on the 24th day of a hunger strike to demand a gender self-determination housing and search policy be implemented. But I can’t even bring myself to call it housing really, the truth is my community needs house keys not handcuffs, needs care not cages, needs jobs and job training, economic power and cultural self-determination. We need safety, real safety. And when Black trans women are safe, in our city, in our society, every single day. When my community is safe, then we can be really proud.”
New Coverage of Athena's Strike:
SF Examiner: Transgender County Jail inmate on hunger strike protesting housing rules
SF Weekly: Trans Woman in S.F. Jail On Hunger Strike To Change Housing Policy
KPFA Radio: Day 16 of Transgender Woman's Hunger Strike for Inmate Housing Reform
NO LGBTQI PRIDE in Prisons, No Gender Justice in SF Jails
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bay Area TGI and LGB communities are reeling in grief after the violent shooting in Orlando, in addition to the violence targeting our communities every day via police brutality, economic injustice, and displacement from the Bay Area.
As SF PRIDE approaches, we uplift the national call by transgender, gender variant and intersex people for #NoPrideInPrisons. Around the country, the queer prisoner support group Black & Pink is calling for an end to solitary confinement; in DC, organizers are calling for DC PRIDE to divest from the prison industrial complex (in particular, cutting ties with Wells Fargo, a major stockholder in private companies that profit from prisons). Now the Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) has invited those celebrating PRIDE in San Francisco to join us in divesting from prisons and policing.
On Thursday, June 16, at 10 AM, members of the local TGI and LGB community will be confronting the budget hearing meeting in San Francisco to assert that money in our names must go to care for TGI people, and to keeping people in the community rather than disappearing and mistreating our folks inside SF jails. On Monday, June 20th at 9:30 AM, there will be a larger community rally and continued participation in the budget hearings. Finally, on Friday June 24th, the community will celebrate together in the official Trans March after party, benefiting TGI self-defense and the fight against the prison industrial complex, at TGIJP’s annual Bustin Out: Party Against the Prison Industrial Complex.
This series of events seeks to continue the momentum and traction created by the #Frisco5 and the #Frisco500 through their hunger strike and guiding principles that ousted SF police chief Greg Suhr, as well as the success of the anti-jail campaign that resulted in #NoNewSFJail in December 2015.
Centering the leadership of currently incarcerated trans women, TGIJP seeks to amplify the demands for gender self-determination based housing and search policy for the SF Sheriff’s department and jail system. Athena Cadence, transgender woman of color currently held at SF county jail is on day 15 of a hunger strike demanding a new gender housing policy. Six months into her time in office, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy has repeatedly missed deadlines set by the city and community leaders to implement a policy that respects the safety and gender self-determination of TGI folks held behind bars.
Given SFSD’s repeated failures to provide safety for imprisoned TGI people and our desire to amplify Athena’s actions, TGIJP demands that: 1) Athena, the woman on a hunger strike be moved into women’s housing and be searched by female officers so that her hunger strike can end; 2) a draft gender housing policy be produced and shared with city officials and community leaders immediately, and 3) in the interim, as the policy is created instead of our people continuing to be kept in dangerous conditions, we insist that TGI people be released on own recognizance to HealthRight360/Walden House or a similar program.
TGI Justice Project #BlackTransLivesMatter TShirt (front modeled above by Cris, Woods, Gail and Janetta left to right). Available Online Until Sizes Are Sold Out!! Sizes SM - 4XL, Crew Cut or V-Neck! (Sorry we've sold out of the small & medium sizes... stay tuned for refill on the sizes & potentially for sweat pants!) Recently re-ordered shirts now in all sizes!
No to Prison Industrial Complex: San Francisco's Trans Community Responds to Brutal Murders
Grieving a trans woman of color's recent murder, activists in San Francisco call for community-based safety solutions.
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/29256-no-to-prison-indus . . .
Bustin' Out: From Solitary to ReEntry
Watch TGIJP's Program Director Janetta Johnson’s video
for Black Girl Dangerous’ MagniFLY! Video Visibility Project for Trans Women of Color.
Her video is called~ "Bustin' Out: From Solitary to ReEntry"
TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender people—inside and outside of prison—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom.
We work in collaboration with others to forge a culture of resistance and resilience to strengthen us for the fight against imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures. We seek to create a world rooted in self determination, freedom of expression, and gender justice.
234 Eddy St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
370 Turk St #370
SF, CA 94102