Demonstrators gathered outside Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday in solidarity with LGBT+ and anti-fascist protesters arrested by Police during Saturday’s Glasgow Pride march.
Five people were arrested at the weekend, including three National Union of Students (NUS) LGBT+ activists who were taken into police custody for protesting Police Scotland being the forefront of the rally. Police Scotland had been invited to lead the march by the official organisers.
Activists highly criticise Police Scotland for the excessive force used against demonstrators. Recordings show officers pinning NUS LGBT+ Officer Beth Douglas against a metal fence, as she can be heard saying, ‘I am choking’. The three trans NUS activists were later ‘liberated’ from custody, but have been told to expect future communication from the police.
Two members of the anti-fascist/Industrial Workers of the World bloc were also arrested on the day. One of the anti-fascists detained was a minor, who was reportedly targeted by police for holding up a sign which read ‘these f*ggots fight fascists’. The sixteen-year-old faces homophobic hate crime charges, despite being LGBT+ and holding up the sign in the spirit of reclamation. The second member of the anti-fascist/IWW bloc was arrested by police as he attempted to offer legal advice to the distressed minor.
Disputes surrounding this year’s Pride march, which culminated in the protests and arrests of the three NUS individuals centre around the presence of Police Scotland within Glasgow Pride. In a statement released on Monday afternoon, by NUS LGBT+ and NUS Trans Campaigns the reasoning behind their decision to disrupt Saturday’s proceedings was outlined.
The statement said: “This year, the Glasgow Pride parade had a police marching band as its frontrunner bloc. Given the police’s role in disproportionately policing and arresting trans and LGBT+ people, and the history of Pride as a protest against police violence instigated by trans women of colour, we feel that the decision by Glasgow Pride organisers to give the police this position of honour is misguided.
The protest against police brutality was a peaceable attempt by a small group of activists to highlight police violence by extending a banner in front of the marching band.”
Pride Glasgow, the official organisers of the weekend’s celebrations, have defended their decision to invite Police Scotland to lead the march, and have condemned the protesters. Pride Glasgow stated that they ‘fully encourage the participation of uniformed services in the Parade’ and were ‘extremely disappointed in the actions of a small group of people’ who they accuse of attempting to ‘sabotage’ the march.
Two of the protestors arrested on Saturday, were due to appear in Glasgow Sherriff Court on Monday. This drew a crowd of LGBT+, allies and anti-fascist solidarity demonstrators outside the courthouse. The crowd called for the charges against the group, dubbed the ‘Pride 5’, to be dropped.
Douglas, who was among the protestors arrested on Saturday, joined demonstrators outside where she reiterated the campaigners’ message that, “Pride is a protest. It is not a parade, it is not a festival. It is for queer liberation… not rainbow capitalism.”
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) 21 August 2017
The cause of the Pride 5 came to the attention of LGBT+ icon and American whistleblower, Chelsea Manning, who tweeted a message of support to the protesters on Monday.
The campaign to drop charges against the Pride 5 is expected to continue.
By Matt Crilly