San Diego Pride declares our opposition to the state-sanctioned violence, murder, and terror being perpetrated by law enforcement agencies across the country. This state-sanctioned violence and brutality against Black and brown communities has a history that dates back to the country’s first colonizers and shares the same roots as the violence and brutality that the LGBTQ+ community fought back against at Stonewall in 1969. Then, the Stonewall riots – led by Black and brown transgender folks, butch lesbians, street kids, drag queens, gay men, bisexual folks, and gender non-conforming folks of all genders and sexual orientations – sparked a fire in the LGBTQ+ movement and became the annual marker of what we now know as Pride month. Now, the protests and uprising led by Black folks across the country is rekindling a growing fire among all people who believe that Black Lives Matter and who oppose state-sanctioned police violence.
We condemn the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. We condemn the killing of Tony McDade, a Black transgender man, by police officers in Tallahassee, FL. We condemn the killing of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes while jogging in south Georgia. We condemn the killing of Breonna Taylor by law enforcement officers in Louisville, KY. We condemn the attempted weaponization of police force against Christian Cooper, a Black gay man, by a white woman in New York City. We condemn the unnecessary escalation and aggression by police departments, Sheriff’s departments, military agencies, and ICE, especially that which has been blatantly on display across the country since George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis sparked a tinder box of protest.
San Diego Pride stands in solidarity with the Black community, including the Black members of our own staff, Board, and volunteers. We are part of the Black community, and the Black community is part of the LGBTQ+ community. Our struggles are intertwined and inextricable. As an organization, we recognize and acknowledge that all lives cannot matter until Black lives matter.
We also recognize that the United States is a country that was built on racialized violence, from the genocide of indigenous populations to slavery. This legacy takes time and significant work to undo, and nonprofit organizations committed to social justice are not immured from this American legacy and culture. As organizations, we must commit to doing that work of exploring, addressing, and undoing our own internalized anti-Black racism. San Diego Pride commits to working within our organization, with our Black partner organizations, and with all of our community partner organizations to do this deep and difficult work. Any culture that permits this level of aggression and brutality, especially in an institution with the power and responsibility of enforcing laws, must end.
San Diego Pride’s own past as an organization includes harm done to communities of color, including but not limited to threatening violence and police involvement against Black and non-Black people of color. We apologize for the actions of the past. The current leadership is committed to carving a better path forward with and for the Black community. This path toward a more visible and deepened anti-racist organizational culture includes, but is not limited to, internal accountability and the implementation of transformative justice processes for and with Pride staff, board, and volunteers, and continued and expanded anti-racism training for all staff, board, and volunteers. We also welcome and re-commit to engaging with community accountability and transformative justice processes developed in partnership with the Black LGBTQ+ community.
We recognize, also, that this is difficult and deep work that requires multiple approaches. For years, San Diego Pride has engaged in, and will continue to require, the harm-reduction work of training law enforcement officers on LGBTQ+ cultural competency and maintaining relationships based on accountability and mutual respect. Maintaining these relationships will focus on keeping our Black and brown community safe from violence, including violence from law enforcement. We have also done the work to lobby and advocate for meaningful police and criminal justice reform in the system that disproportionately criminalizes and punishes Black and brown LGBTQ folks. We will continue to do that work and look for new opportunities to create change — while acknowledging that policy change is only a harm-reduction strategy. Meaningful change must come from the end of the anti-Black racist culture that allows state-sanctioned violence against Black and brown bodies; not just within San Diego’s law enforcement community, but in all law enforcement agencies around the country and in society at large.
That requires a culture shift. San Diego Pride again calls on City and County leaders – including the Mayor, City Council, County Board of Supervisors, Police Chiefs, and Sheriff – to begin by enacting the real, tangible policy proposals that have come from anti-violence advocates in the United States to address biased policing. We call on these City and County leaders to join in the national call for true reform of how we conceptualize and use policing in our cities and counties; we must shift our collective focus and financial support away from criminalizing our communities and toward providing the necessary health and social support systems that our communities need.
While we will continue to support harm-reduction policies and procedures that call for reform within law enforcement agencies, this true change must come at the cultural level. The current culture within law enforcement and across America is untenable and incompatible with valuing Black and brown lives.
San Diego Pride
San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition
This statement was drafted by San Diego Pride’s Black staff and board to center their voices and experiences. It is supported by both organizations.