Jun 2, 2022 - News

Philadelphia police aren't welcome at Pride

Illustration of a police uniform standing with no person inside it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

PHL Pride Collective, the newly formed group organizing Philly's Pride this year, has a message for police: stay away.

Why it matters: Philadelphia joins multiple cities across the U.S. where Pride organizers are bucking the idea of allowing officers to participate.

  • Many are reconsidering in response to police shootings of Black Americans and Pride's origins honoring the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which began as an uprising against police, Axios' Russell Contreras reports.

What they're saying: "Cops are there to protect and serve systems that have historically oppressed and marginalized us," PHL Pride Collective's leading organizer Abdul-Aliy Muhammad told Axios. "It's clear and simple to me that cops are just not healthy for our communities."

The other side: A police spokesperson told Axios the department "respects individuals' right to free speech and assembly, and officers will be on hand to ensure the safety of all who are directly or indirectly involved in this year's festivities."

The big picture: Philadelphia police have a fraught history with Black and brown LGBTQ people. One of the most notable cases centers around the death of Nizah Morris, a Black trans woman found unconscious and bleeding from her head after receiving a ride from a Philly officer in 2002.

  • The case, which remains unsolved, has sparked protests and multiple investigations.
  • Philadelphia's Morris Home, the only alcohol and drug recovery home in the country specifically designed for trans and gender-nonconforming people, is named after her.

State of play: PHL Pride Collective recently replaced the now-defunct nonprofit Philly Pride Presents, which disbanded last June following allegations of racism and transphobia within the organization.

  • The accusations stemmed in part from several Facebook posts from the group, including one last year that included a Blue Lives Matter flag with a rainbow stripe.
  • Of note: The symbol can represent support for police but has also been used to be adversarial to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Fast forward: After the nonprofit dissolved, Muhammad posted a callout on Twitter to build something new and inclusive. From inception, police were not part of that vision.

  • "As someone who's Black, Muslim, queer, and nonbinary from West Philly… in a city with a plurality of Black and brown populations… it was always an atrocity to see that Pride did not reflect me," they said.

Go deeper: Listen to WHYY's new podcast "March On: The Fight for Pride," which dives into the downfall of Philly Pride Presents and what's to come for the PHL Pride Collective.


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