‘No pride in police, no police in pride’
Five LGBTQ activists were arrested at Glasgow Pride this weekend while peacefully protesting police presence. Over 5,000 people attended the main Pride celebrations, while a number turned out to demonstrate against the participation of authorities in the LGBTQ event.
Three of those arrested are trans activists, who were charged with breaching the peace as Police Scotland marched in the parade. Witnesses have related a peaceful blockade was formed with banners and placards, which was then broken up by reportedly ‘hostile’ officers.
Activists have long been condemning authorities leading Pride parades, due to the history of police violence against the LGBT community, particularly trans people. The deaths of trans people of colour in police custody and in prison are absolutely disproportionate. Jess Bradley, the NUS Trans Officer who was arrested following her participation in the protest, outlined to Dazed that it felt “especially distasteful given the first Pride was a commemoration of an anti-police riot: the Stonewall riots.”
Bradley detailed the incident: “We went to the front of the march in an attempt to lead it ourselves. We were quickly jumped on by uniformed officers. I was wrestled to the ground, cuffed in a very painful way, and taken to the side, my friend was held in a chokehold and another was arrested too. We were charged with breach of the peace, and let out after seven hours in custody.”
Bradley added: “We will be continuing our fight to reclaim pride and bring it back to the grassroots.”
Another queer activist arrested on the day, Rob, related his experience to Dazed. Rob says that after activists unravelled their banner they experienced “immediate aggression” from officers. Two activists were pinned to the floor, with more eventually cuffed.
“The officers proceeded to detain us by pinning us against a fence nearby with little to no explanation of why,” they explain. “It took them 10 minutes to decide we were being arrested after alternating between excuses – initially I was told it was because I told a cop to ‘fuck off’ through the megaphone, though videos show no swears leaving my mouth throughout the entire action. Later it was decided we were disrupting the peace.”
Trans folks being some of the loudest against 🚔 marching in Pride may have s'thing to do with the fact that they're some of the most at-risk— Ellen Murray ♿🚲 (@ellenfromnowon) August 20, 2017
While this altercation took place, the parade continued. Supporters of the detained activists chanted in support. Rob details that the arresting officers had “little to no coordination”.
“The officer who cuffed me managed to cut my wrist by being so rough, though eventually agreed for me to be re-cuffed with my hands at the front of my body instead of the back,” Rob observes. “A legal observer noticed that Jess, the activist who I was detained alongside, had her cuffs also forcefully tight and around her back. The officer responsible for her announced that arrestees ‘are never cuffed at the front’, making it awkward for my officer, who then got a telling off.”
“The organisational mess continued as we were surrounded with around 10 officers at one point, none of which seemed to agree what was going on – it took us several minutes of asking to find out where we even being taken.”
Supporters of the arrested gathered outside the Glasgow police station where they were being held to shout chants of support. Bradley and Rob were two of three trans activists to be detained and later released.
“They wanted us to stop drawing attention to their violence, but in doing so demonstrated how performative their allyship is. Sticking a rainbow onto a cop car means nothing if you're still carting innocent trans protestors off in it”
In a separate incident, two people, who are part of Edinburgh’s AntiFa, were arrested, held overnight and charged with breaching the peace with homophobic aggravation. They appeared in court yesterday (August 21) while a large demonstration gathered outside in support. Information provided to Dazed says that one of the detained is an EU migrant who could face deportation.
A statement from Scottish Trans Alliance detailed however that the arrests for homophobic aggravation related to a placard that read “These faggots fight fascists”. The STA details further: “We have raised concerns about this with Police Scotland. It is vital to understand that some LGBTI people reclaim words like ‘queer’, ‘dyke’, ‘poof’ and ‘faggot’ to use about ourselves, and when we do that, it is not a hate crime.
“When a person reclaims a word in this way, there is no malice and ill-will towards LGB people involved, and malice and ill-will is a core requirement for a homophobic hate crime in Scotland.”
Edinburgh Antitfa, an antifascist direct action group, has called the arrests of its members “a disgusting move from the police”. A spokesperson related that while the arrests of queer people at a queer march went on, “genuinely homophobic hate preachers” gathered nearby. “Protecting homophobic fascists whilst brutalising queer antifascists is emblematic of the behaviour of police Scotland who have more in common with the far right than with liberation movements.”
Glasgow Pride organisers have come out in support of the police decision on the day, a move that’s garnered widespread criticism. They said they were “saddened that this shameful attempt to sabotage the parade has come from within the LGBTI community.
“Whilst we understand that others may have a different view on this. Actions which endanger others will not be permitted.”
Edinburgh Antifa denounced the “complicity of corporate friendly Pride organisers” as “an absolute outrage”. They told Dazed: “Rather than stand by their queer siblings, Glasgow pride instead chose to condemn the victims of police repression and side with the police via a grotesque public statement that represented only their own cowardly interests and not those of the queer and trans community at large. It comes as no surprise that those with financial motivations have little to nothing in common with those whom they claim to represent.
“Those who have more in common with police than with LGBTQAI+ demonstrators fighting for their rights and against the fascist menace have no place running anything in the name of queer liberation, much less a pride march.”
Free Pride, who call for anti-commercialisation of Pride events, inclusivity and encouraging Pride as a protest, joined those condemning the arrests made. A spokesperson for Free Pride told Dazed: “Despite it being clear that the protest was peaceful and posed no threat to the wellbeing of any attendees, protesters were arrested and detained for up to two days. It is shameful that a minor was arrested simply for reclaiming a slur attributed to themselves. We stand in solidarity with the ones arrested and call for the charges to be dropped.”
They added: “Pride’s roots lie in protesting against police brutality, and to this day the police are an institutionally oppressive force, specifically against the trans community which was once again shown on Saturday as two trans women were thrown to the ground without being told their rights or reason for arrest. This is what we were protesting and the Police showed us just how necessary it still is even today.
“Glasgow Pride has shown that their true allies are not the LGBT+ community, but the very forces that we are still oppressed by. We call for an apology to the arrested and for Police not to be granted a place in the march in following years.”