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Side With Love Against Hate

Side With Love Against Hate: A Post-Straight Pride Reflection

Side With Love Against Hate: A Post-Straight Pride Reflection

“Let’s continue to turn our backs on hatred, using our voices to continue spreading the message of love.” - Mayor Marty Walsh

By Art Nava

On August 30, 2019, a parade was held in Boston for “Straight Pride.” The parade organizers were a group named Super Happy Fun America. City Hall issued permits in June according to Mayor Marty Walsh, “based on operational feasibility, not based on values or endorsement of beliefs.” The Boston Pride Committee named the parade organizers as a group of white supremacists and encouraged alternate programming to reaffirm LGBTQ Pride. [1]

The parade attracted national coverage from USA Today, CNN, and Huffington Post. The Boston Globe estimated that there were 200 marchers in the parade and 600 counter-protestors at the end of the parade route near Government Center. Others also noted that there were hundreds of police officers, many of whom were uniformed in full riot gear, something that had not been seen in Boston for decades, if ever. Boston news coverage that evening barely mentioned the parade and spent much more time on other news of the day including Hurricane Dorian which was heading towards Florida.

Social media coverage however showed that some police aggressively used pepper spray and even their own bicycles as weapons against the counter-protestors. Prior to the parade, Boston Police issued warnings advising people to stay away from the parade route and recommending no animals be present in the area (including service animals). The severe police presence indicated that they were expecting violent confrontations. [2] Boston Police arrested thirty-six individuals and reported that four officers had been injured during the parade and protest. [3] Unofficial accounts suggest that the Boston Police intelligence reports indicated that anarchists would be present among the protestors. Anti-fascist groups had held trainings on safety at protests, and it’s disturbing that Boston Police could potentially be confusing the two types of groups.

The day after the parade, Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted, “Let’s continue to turn our backs on hatred, using our voices to continue spreading the message of love.” And he pointed out the many neighborhood parties and gatherings happening during the rest of the Labor Day weekend. Most in the Boston area were doubtless unaware there had been a parade and protest. But in the days that followed, the struggle between police and citizens moved to the courts. District Attorney Rachael Rollins was forced to petition the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court when a judge refused to drop charges against some of the protestors as had been requested by prosecutors. The high court sided with DA Rollins by September 9th. [4]

More recently, it has been disclosed that 9,000 hours of overtime was worked by Boston Police at the parade, and none of their body cameras have any recorded footage of the parade and protest because a policy that body cameras do not have to be turned on during overtime, regardless of the type of event. [5] Conservative city councilors have also proposed an ordinance that would ban masks being worn on public property (as some of the anti-fascist protestors had done). [6]

To stay informed of ongoing developments, check the WBUR web site

  1. "What To Know About The 'Straight Pride Parade' Coming To Boston" (WBUR News)
  2. "Controversial 'Straight Pride' Parade In Boston Met By Larger Counter-Protests" (WBUR News)
  3. "The Arraignments Of The Protesters Of The 'Straight Pride' Parade, By The Numbers" (WBUR News)
  4. "High Court Sides With DA Rachael Rollins In Spat Over Straight Pride Parade Arrests" (CBS News, Boston)
  5. "Boston Police Worked 9,000 Overtime Hours At The ‘Straight Pride’ Parade. Zero Minutes Were Captured By Body Cameras" (WBUR News)
  6. "Activists say proposed Boston mask ban could put protesters in danger" (Boston.com)