At Columbus Pride 2017, a group of Black queer and trans protesters and their allies gathered with the intent of silently blocking the parade for seven minutes to protest the recent acquittal of Philando Castile’s murderer and to hold space for Black and brown queer and trans people. Instead of allowing the protesters to exercise their First Amendment right undisturbed, Columbus Police Department (CPD) officers promptly rammed protesters with bikes, maced them, shoved them to the ground, chased them with horses, etc.
Of the protesters attacked by the violent police officers, four Black queer and trans folks now known as the #BlackPride4 were arrested and slammed with charges ranging from resisting arrest to disorderly conduct. One person was wrongfully charged with the felony of aggravated robbery.
To demonstrate our outrage at the police’s violence and the suppression of Black queer and trans resistance, we worked from June 2017 to March 2018 on the grassroots defense campaign to #FreeTheBlackPride4. Alongside other outraged individuals and supporting organizations, we held rallies, direct actions, fundraising initiatives, calling campaigns, and public awareness efforts to assist the #BlackPride4 through their struggles with the criminal injustice system. We also worked to hold Stonewall Columbus accountable for allowing their ingrained white supremacy to keep them silent and inactive after Black queer folks were brutalized by police at their own event.