Protesters from the group No Justice No Pride caused the Capital Pride Parade to change routes at least twice after blocking the parade on P Street Saturday.
Members of No Justice No Pride mobilized to protest Capital Pride’s corporate sponsors for their alleged neglect of minority groups within the LGBTQ community. About an hour after the parade began, members of No Justice No Pride blocked the parade route near 15th and P streets and later another section of the route, forcing the parade to reroute while protesters clashed with paradegoers.
Noa Leibowitz, a rising junior at American University, said she identifies as a transgender woman and was upset that Capital Pride would be involved in D.C.’s celebration of pride month because of their ties to corporate sponsors that don’t support the transgender community and lack in representation of transgender women of color.
“The people who are affected by this most and who have the least representation in all of this are trans women of color and queer people of color,” she said. “Their voices have been ignored for so long.”
No Justice No Pride distributed a list of five major demands, including that Capital Pride involve transgender women of color in the decision-making process for events, take a position against police violence and cut ties with corporations that do not support marginalized groups.
After about an hour and a half of protesting near the corner of P and 15th streets, the group moved to the corner of P and 17th streets to stand where the parade had been rerouted. Police barricaded the protestors away from the parade watchers and the parade rerouted again.
A leader of the group chanted “what side are you on my people” and the rest of the group replied to the chant “we’re on the freedom side.” The group also shouted a list of demands that they distributed amongst the crowd and yelled more chants like “this is our history, don’t deny it, Stonewall was a trans riot,” referring to the 1969 protests at Stonewall Inn, which many people claim to have started the gay liberation movement.
Tom Segal traveled to the District to attend the Equality March Sunday from his home in Chicago. Segal said although he understands the message No Justice No People was trying to send, he wishes the groups could band together instead of clash.
“I’m frustrated that this would happen and that we can’t be a coalition,” Segal said.
Segal, who is 55 years old, added that he saw a lot of his friends die in the 1980s and 1990s from AIDS and he felt that stopping the Capital Pride Parade in a protest “steps on their memory.”
Emily Zadjura, who identifies as queer, said she was aware the protest would be happening but did not come to the parade to join up with the group. Once she saw the group mobilize, she said she wanted to watch and protect the group so they could speak out against police violence.
“I don’t have time to keep explaining why minorities lives matter,” she said.
Zadjura said she was punched in the face after trying to stop a man who ran toward the protesters.
Members of the group burned sticks of sage and chanted “we shut shit down” as the crowds began to thin around 8 p.m.
Michael Jackson traveled to the District from Buffalo, N.Y. to attend the Pride Weekend events. Jackson was staying in a townhouse on P Street that his friends rented on Airbnb in front of the area where the protest broke out. Jackson said it was unacceptable that this group “hijacked” the entire parade.
“Their platform is welcome, but they chose the wrong venue,” Jackson said. “They misstepped in a big way.”