Stonewall Columbus Apologizes For 'Black Pride 4' Arrests
LGBTQ advocacy group Stonewall Columbus is apologizing to four activists who were arrested while interrupting the organization’s Pride Parade in June 2017.
The apology arrives two weeks after the group TransOhio severed ties with Stonewall Columbus.
The activists, who later became known as the Black Pride 4, blocked the parade route in an effort to draw attention to issues faced by transgender people of color, who they said deserved a louder voice in Stonewall.
The response by Stonewall at the time pushed festival organizer Lori Gum to step down, calling the group’s initial statement an “abdication of leadership at the highest level.”
The Wednesday statement from Stonewall took a much stronger tone.
“We apologize to each of these individuals for the harm and trauma they experienced from Stonewall Columbus not being there to support them," the statement read. "We apologize to the broader LGBTQ+ community for not being the voice of our community when we needed to be. We unequivocally condemn the police actions and policies that harmed the Black Pride 4 and members of our LGBTQ+ community."
They attempted to block the parade route for seven minutes of silence to represent the seven bullets that killed Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by law enforcement. Video captured during the parade shows Columbus Police using pepper spray and forcing protesters to the ground.
Police defended the actions of officers involved in the arrests. They charged the four with disorderly conduct, failure to comply with police orders, resisting arrest. Authorities also say one individual tried to grab an officer's gun, although protesters dispute that claim.
The latest Stonewall statement also says “the events surrounding Pride 2017 were not isolated. Rather, they were a symptom of a much larger systemic issue of excluding and under-serving the most marginalized in our community, especially people of color and the trans community.”
A TransOhio statement said their efforts to give voice to transgender Ohioans “have been repeatedly met with excuses, resistance, and pleas for unity—which inherently silences the valid dissent of those marginalized for the sake of maintaining the status quo, effectively placing the comfort of Stonewall’s leadership over the safety and security of the very people it is supposed to serve for the sake of not risking the comfort of those in more dominant positions.”