The reaction from some members of the community has been grody to the max. They make many salient points, especially about the reaction of the Parade organiser.
Those who attended Auckland’s Pride parade on Saturday night may have seen that a group of protesters interrupted New Zealand Police’s float. We, No Pride in Prisons, took this non-violent action to highlight the fact that the queer, Māori and Pasifika communities are disproportionately harassed and targeted by police.
We are a group of queer and trans activists who did not want to see the violence of the settler colonial state ‘pinkwashed’ by the inclusion of uniformed Police and Corrections officers.
However, police and Pride security decided to escalate things. One protester, a Māori trans woman, was noticeably targeted by security. She was thrown to the ground by Pride security and suffered a badly fractured humerus. Police took no action against the violent behaviour of security, and refused her medical attention for twenty-five minutes, whilst she was screaming in pain. She is currently being treated in hospital.
No Pride in Prisons finds it ironic that, during a peaceful protest aiming to highlight police brutality, a Māori trans woman was so brutally treated without intervention by the police officers present. The two other protesters were Pākehā and were almost entirely ignored by police and security. These actions are a clear example of police negligence, informed by institutional racism and transmisogyny.
The reaction of the crowd was negative and violent. No Pride in Prisons members on the sidelines were shoved away from the barriers and sworn at. They were told to “get your own parade.”
This is our parade. This is our space. Or at least it is meant to be. The reality is that what should have been a queer-centred space prioritised violent, racist, homophobic and transmisogynistic institutions.
The reality is that members of the Gay Auckland Business Association and the parade-viewing public actively participated in the violence inflicted upon our protestors. GABA’s president Heather Carnegie has been captured on video by the New Zealand Herald assaulting the protesters, as well as throwing the phone of a filming supporter. It is telling that her first instinct is hostility against the injured trans woman rather than any offer of aid.
[Editor’s note: Heather Carnegie denies acting violently, stating “At no time did I personally struggle with any of the protesters, who were the ones being violent resisting security and police efforts to get them off the road, and I am surprised to hear of this idea.” More here]
The director of the parade, Richard Taki, made a statement in the same breath praising freedom of speech and condemning acts of dissent within the queer and trans community. After one of the protesters suffered a bone fracture in her arm from the brutality of Pride security, Taki went as far as to claim that the protest was “dangerous and callous”, excusing the targeted violence of Pride security and police against a Māori trans woman.
Much of the response has been to suggest that we should have participated in the parade officially and communicated our message that way. Associated protesters did, in fact, march in the parade in an official capacity and received responses varying from silence to verbal abuse.
Response on social media has been to portray the action as inherently violent, and that if it had been peaceful people would not have been injured. In reality, none of the protesters instigated violence and police and security response was escalated unnecessarily. None of us would invite the brutalization suffered; the protest occurred to shed light on our experiences as people vulnerable to marginalisation and police targeting. Speculation that we instigated violence is entirely unwarranted, unjustified, and unreasonable.
Pride parades began, led by trans women of colour, in order to commemorate and continue the resistance against police brutality and imprisonment. Pride organisers today, by sanctioning the violence of the police and the prison system, grossly dishonour this history that has paved the way for many of us.
We intend to lay a formal complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority, and are currently seeking legal counsel.
Well, speaks for itself.