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Drag activists align with Black Lives Matter in Boystown protest
by Vern Hester
2020-06-15

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"Make no mistake, the is not a f***king parade."—Rally organizer Jo MaMa at the start of the Drag March for Change Rally

On June 14, a coalition of local drag performers and LGBTQ activists led a march in support of Black Lives Matter through the heart of Chicago's Boystown neighborhood. With many large scale Pride events either cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a reaction to worldwide protest actions started by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, the march came as a wake-up call and rebuke to the Chicago Police Department, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and President Donald Trump, the latter whose birthday was on the same date.

The march kicked off at Belmont Avenue and Halsted Street in the late afternoon and ended at the intersection of Grace Street, Broadway and Halsted Street, where the rally was held.

Speakers at the rally included LGBTQ activists Zahara Bassett and Jay Rice, of The Brave Space Alliance; activist Jasmine Salas; LGBTQ-rights activist Tatyana; and local drag performers Lucy Stoole, Luc Ami, Shea Coulee, Zola, Dida Ritz, The Vixen and Miss Toto. Perform Jo MaMa created, produced and emceed the event.

Among the many issues addressed was a list of demands that included justice through the arrest, indictment and prosecution of police officers in the deaths of trans individual Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, among others; the release and pardon of all protesters in Chicago Police Department (CPD) custody; acknowledgement from all levels of local and national government that all Black lives matter; and the enactment of comprehensive laws on the national level protecting LGBTQ individuals. A major rallying point was the creation of a Civil Police Accountability Council that would hold the CPD accountable to the public.


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