We got the cops out of Madison Pride

August 24, 2018

Brianna Patterson and Sylvia Johnson report from the Madison Pride march, where the Community Pride contingent celebrated keeping police out of the parade.

MORE THAN 60 organizations and nearly 2,000 people turned out on August 19 for the annual OutReach LGBTQ+ Pride parade in downtown Madison, Wisconsin — including the ad hoc Community Pride contingent, which came together in the weeks before the event to demand that a police contingent not be allowed to join the parade.

They won that demand, and there was not only no police contingent but also a clear, visible presence of marchers speaking out against police brutality against the LGBTQ community, particularly people of color.

The Community Pride contingent, which grew to 50 marchers, was largely made up of members of the No Cops in Schools, International Socialist Organization (ISO), Degenderettes, Freedom Inc., the Trans Liberation Art Coalition and Socialist Alternative.

The ISO contingent brought placards reading “Black Trans Lives Matter” and a banner to match, as well as another banner that read “No Cop Contingent at Our Pride.” Another activist group marched in front with a banner that read “No Cops in School.”

Celebrating no police at the Madison Pride march
Celebrating no police at the Madison Pride march (ISO Madison)

There was a diverse makeup of identities presented — a real display of the solidarity across different organizations.

OVERALL, THE crowd was supportive and positive, particularly to chants of “Black Lives Matter,” “Back up, back up, we want freedom, get these cops out our schools/we got the cops out of pride, we don’t need ‘em!” and “Abolish ICE.”

Notably, many queer youth and unaffiliated individuals joined the contingent. Many of them had found out about Community Pride through social media or contentious articles in the local press.

There were, however, a few not-so-welcoming voices. One man heckled the contingent, and a group of men in leather wearing “Blue Lives Matter” gear positioned themselves later on the route, further from the bigger crowd, in an attempt to intimidate our contingent. They were vastly outnumbered and did not engage.

Although the cop contingent was removed from the parade, the police still performed a role as paid security for the event, and at least one officer with a dog followed the ISO table closely throughout the day.

Additionally, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, whose application for a law enforcement contingent in Pride was denied, was stationed directly behind the Community Pride contingent on the premise that he was an electoral candidate (for a position he currently holds).

This was meant to intimidate our contingent, and further adds to the underhanded methods the police use to infiltrate spaces and events, including ones that have made a concentrated effort to remove them.

Despite the attempts at intimidation, the Community Pride contingent finished the parade route, providing an independent radical political group with clear messages against police brutality, racism, transphobia, borders and seeking LGBTQ liberation for all.

The Pride parade was an enormous triumph, as it’s not often that radicals can boast removing the cops from any event.

The Community Pride coalition put on an after party to celebrate the victory, to continue to build relationships, and discuss next steps. Many attendees agreed that more work was needed to keep the cops out of Pride, get police out of our schools and to address the material repercussions of racism in the Madison community.

Further Reading

From the archives