No Cops At Pride
First Published: Newsletter 17/06/20
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In order to understand that statement, we must go back to one of the most influential events in recent queer history: the Stonewall riots.
In the 1950s and 1960s, there was rampant systemic cisheterosexism written into US law. It was illegal for men to wear dresses, for instance, and the police would frequently raid gay bars in order to arrest patrons.
The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village catered to some of the most marginalised people in the gay community: gender-nonconforming folx, transgender people, people of colour, and homeless youth. During one police raid of the Stonewall Inn, riots broke out as queer folx physically fought for their liberation. The riots lasted for several days, the local queer community organising into activist groups existing outside of the capitalist state.
These riots are seen today as one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement and the current struggle for LGBTQ+ liberation worldwide. The struggle for queer liberation has always existed outside of state power, and the police are an apparatus of the white supremacist capitalist state. Throughout history, queer folx have been persecuted by the state in many societies, and all progress has been made, not through state concessions, but through queer power existing independently of the state.
It is important to understand the police as an institution that exists to protect private property. In the UK, the police originated in attempts to control striking workers; policing was reaction to the early labour movement. We must understand cisheteropatriarchy as a part of capitalism, as a part of the totality of oppression which we must all bear the brunt of. When 24% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+, it is clear that economic oppression is inextricable from anti-queerness. Queer liberation is worker liberation, and both are impossible alongside the capitalist state and all its extensions, including policing.
Change will not come from above. We must not rely upon the state to give us freedom, because if someone gives you freedom, they can also take it away. We must build queer power outside of the state; we must establish local community clinics to provide free and confidential support for queer folx, establish support networks within your local community, educate people about queer history, and provide queer folx with the tools they need to liberate themselves. Rights have never been given to us; we have always taken rights in conquest.
Police should not be present at pride events. Police have always been the ones persecuting us, and they still are. Police endanger our queer comrades of colour, and are disproportionately violent towards our trans and nonbinary comrades. Even if a police officer is queer themselves, they still uphold the state structures which oppress their fellow queer people, and as a result, they are an enemy. We cannot rely upon the police to protect us; police will sooner shoot us than they will shoot those who want us dead. We must teach the queer community to defend themselves, and we must break the chains of policing.
Happy pride month, queer comrades. Remember our history, and fight for our future.