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ACTIVATE:CHI march and rally cancelled; Pride Without Prejudice/Reclaim Pride march still taking place
by Matt Simonette
2020-06-27

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A seven-mile march that one local group said would center the voices of Black trans community members on Sunday, June 28 has been cancelled after organizers were called out for not sufficiently involving actual stakeholders in the planning. Organizers asked supporters to instead join a rally and march that other local activists had already planned for Lake View and Uptown at the same time that day.

The activist group ACTIVATE:CHI announced late June 26 that they would be cancelling their march, "Black Lives Matter: A BLM Pride Protest," following discord when local activists accused them of not actually involving transgender Black persons or BLM organizational officials in formulating their plans.

ACTIVATE:CHI officials announced on social media: "Our leadership has had a very powerful conversation with the leadership of Brave Space Alliance, and, in the course of that conversation, we listened and learned a lot. As a result, we have decided to cancel this march as a way of holding ourselves accountable for our actions.

"We will be directing all of our resources from this march to Pride Without Prejudice, and make a sizable donation to Brave Space Alliance. We make a promise to move more intentionally in the future with our actions and statements. We will continue to commit to making ourselves more accountable and purposeful."

ACTIVATE:CHI bills itself as "a collective of community organizers initially brought together by our hunger for justice in the brutal police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade. We seek to dismantle the racist systems oppressing our communities."

Their march was announced June 19 as an alternative event in the face of the Chicago Pride Parade's cancellation due to coronavirus and was to be a march from Uptown to Grant Park in downtown Chicago. But the initial announcement raised eyebrows among local activists when it said that it had engaged participation from Black Lives Matter Chicago, Northalsted Business Alliance and Chicago Pride Parade officials, all of whom unlikely could be brought to the planning table without extensive and thorough conversations.

On June 26, officials from the Chicago organization Brave Space Alliance, which primarily serves Black trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, denounced on Facebook ACTIVATE:CHI's planning, noting both connections to institutions that "have historically upheld anti-Blackness and transphobia in the queer and trans community." They further said that ACTIVATE:CHI had been encouraging a police presence for the march.

Additionally, BSA officials wrote: "As planning for the march proceeded, it became clear to Brave Space Alliance that we were being tokenized at this event, and deployed for clout by the organizers. Black trans voices are not sufficiently centered at this event, which purports to be about Black Trans Lives mattering."

The Pride Without Prejudice/Reclaim Pride march, where all parties in this matter have urged community supporters to now focus their attention, steps off from the Belmont L stop at noon on June 28 and heads north to Uptown. The event will feature speakers from several local advocacy organizations. For more information, visit "Pride Without Prejudice/Reclaim Pride March" on Facebook.


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