Following news that SF Pride this year would feature security screenings to enter the Civic Center festival as well as an increased police presence in the wake of the shooting in Orlando, some non-white members of the LGBT community publicly expressed some disapproval earlier this week. Now, Black Lives Matter has officially withdrawn from participating in Sunday's LGBT Pride Parade, in which they were going to appear as an organizational community grand marshal, and so has local sex worker advocacy group St. James Infirmary, as well as community grand marshal designee Janetta Johnson, who is a black transgender woman and activist.
As Johnson tells the Guardian today, "I’m more afraid of police than terrorists."
An official statement from the Black Lives Matter organization reads, "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."
Multiple voices have spoken out against the move by SF Pride to add more police to what is typically a pretty well policed event. The ACLU issued a statement saying, "Cops in the clubs won’t make people feel safer. And SF Pride should not be an excuse to over-police the city’s most vulnerable communities."
The increased security will include bag checks and metal detectors at the festival gates, and bans on large bags, portable speakers, weapons, outside alcohol, drugs, and other "potentially hazardous items," which at music festivals can include selfie sticks. Pride spokesperson Sam Singer said this week that SF Pride and the SFPD "mutually came to the recommendation that in light of the terrorist attack in Orlando, this level of security was necessary."
Pride board president Michelle Meow issued a statement in response to the withdrawals saying, "I will be missing some of you, but I know this is the beginning of something that we’re going to do in San Francisco. We stand here today in support and solidarity of all of our honorees and grand marshals, including Black Lives Matter."
Here are the remaining celebrity and community grand marshals, which include the cast of Transcendent, and Boardwalk Empire and The Wire actor Michael Kenneth Williams.