July 1, 2009

NorthEast Two-Spirit Society and Audre Lorde Project's Executive Director seemed to have been forcefully kicked out of the NYC Heritage of Pride march this past weekend.

From the Ness website,

Just before 2PM, Lieutenant Connoly of the Midtown Taskforce demanded that the People of Color Contingent leave the parade. The reason given was that a delay of 6 blocks existed between the People of Color contingent and the contingent in front of them. NYPD raised the issue of the gap once and POC contingent marshals were in the process of closing the gap. Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of Audre Lorde Project (ALP), and Loyda Colon also of ALP explained to Lieutenant Connoly, that they were in the process of closing the gap and Lieutenant Connoly refused to listen. Lieutenant Connoly then insisted that the POC contingent leave the parade, and attempted to arrest both Colon and Hayashi. Lieutenant Connoly then ejected Harlan Pruden, the driver of NE2SS' support vehicle and co-founder of NE2SS, other members of NE2SS (who led the People of Color Contingent), and Hayashi from the parade. Hayashi was physically dragged off the parade route.

"It should have been a day to celebrate and have fun," Harlan Pruden, Co-founder of NE2SS.

First off, having a six block gap seems like a weird reason to be kicked out of the parade. Secondly, I think this speaks to an inability to see people of color as a fundamental part of the pride festival. The conference organizers said that NE2SS can rejoin the parade, but I do think that the police are their to protect the ability for marchers to march in safety and what they feel is appropriate membership in the parade.

Whatever the reason may be, both NE2SS and the ALP are amazing organizations that should be part of Pride and it is sad that they were not able to participate without being harassed and kicked out by cops.