Auckland: No Pride in Prisons Protesters Bring Pride Parade to a Halt

21 Feb – No Pride in Prisons, a queer and transgender activist group managed to stop the Auckland Pride Parade from progressing. The group took this action in order to protest the inclusion of uniformed police and Corrections officers.

Approximately 300 protesters marched down Karangahape Road towards the Pride Parade. Faced with a police line, a handful of protesters broke through the line and managed to get onto the Parade ground.

This group stayed on the street for approximately an hour and a half and forced the Parade organisers to change the Parade route.

From there, a second group of protesters on the sidelines opened the barriers and rushed onto the road in front of the police float. The protesters then sat across the street, holding a banner reading “Queers Against Cops”.

This action follows the Auckland Pride Board’s decision to allow members of the police and the Department of Corrections to march in uniform in the parade.

“We took the actions we did in order to condemn the Auckland Pride Board’s decision to include violent, racist and transmisogynist institutions in its parade for the second year in a row,” says No Pride in Prisons spokesperson, Emilie Rākete.

“Given recent reports of racist police brutality and Corrections’ announcement to extend its ‘double-bunking’ policy, it is disgraceful that the Auckland Pride Board decided to include Corrections and police in the Pride Parade.”

“Corrections’ policies directly contribute to physical and sexual violence against trans and queer prisoners.”

No Pride in Prisons believes that the effects of Corrections’ placement and double-bunking policies on queer and trans prisoners are perfectly clear.

“This year alone, No Pride in Prisons has heard from multiple transgender prisoners who have been either raped or brutally attacked while in Corrections’ custody.”

The group points to an incident late last year where a trans woman was raped after being placed in a cell overnight with a man. The group argues that this incident would not have taken place if not for the double-bunking policy.

“Corrections has introduced and massively expanded double-bunking policies despite advice that doing so would put prisoners at greater risk of physical and sexual assault. These policies have directly led to the rape of trans women and others,” says Rākete.

“Corrections has proven, time and time again, that it has no regard for the safety or bodily autonomy of inmates.”

According to No Pride in Prisons, the police have no better a track record. “A report released by the New Zealand Police in 2015 found that police officers use force against Māori at eight times the rate they do Pākehā,” says Rākete.

“Last year, the New Zealand Police admitted to having an ‘unconscious bias’ against Māori. While the police may call it a mere ‘bias’, these biases can be more accurately described as racism.”

“Māori currently make up about 51% of New Zealand’s prison population, despite being only 15% of the general population. This is because of the police decisions to apprehend and then charge Māori at a far higher rate than Pākehā for the same crimes. What this proves is the police’s active role in perpetuating structural racism.”

“The participation of police and Corrections in the Pride Parade is a form of pinkwashing, using LGBTQI issues to mask their everyday violence and brutality, especially towards tangata whenua.”

No Pride in Prisons claims it took the action it did today in order to highlight that the queer community has a role to play in combating systemic racism.

“Some parts of the queer community, including the Auckland Pride Board, have chosen to side with racist, homophobic, transmisogynists. Others demonstrated today that a queer community that centres the most marginalised will not accept the co-option of the queer struggle by police and prison guards.”

“The fact of the matter is that prisons and police are violent, racist institutions that have no place in any pride parade.”

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