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Activists spread word about CeCe McDonald

Published Jun 6, 2012 10:59 PM

UNITE HERE activists at Detroit Pride march.

This was the second year in a row that Motor City Pride took place in downtown Detroit. For many years the celebration — a two-day festival with a “Parade for Equality” on the second day — had been held in suburban locations. This year as last, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, and straight allies came to Hart Plaza on the city’s riverfront for the June 2-3 event. The location meant more LGBTQ people of color and lower income residents from Metro Detroit could attend.

MECAWI and Moratorium NOW! march proudly,
June 3.
WW photos: Kris Hamel

People cheered when they saw the sparkling pink banner of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs. Sporting rainbow triangles and slogans: “Stop the attacks on the LGBTQ community! Marriage equality now!” the banner was photographed by many marchers, spectators and journalists.

This was the first year the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO marched in Pride and had a table. The federation’s new president, Chris Michelakis — a straight ally — has taken the initiative in spearheading a Detroit area chapter of [email protected], the national AFL-CIO’s LGBTQ constituency group.

The union UNITE HERE, which primarily represents restaurant and hotel workers, marched with signs reading “LGBT + Labor, sleep with the right people.” This play on words is part of a campaign to build awareness and support around the boycott of anti-union, anti-worker hotels, specifically Hyatt hotels, which are “destroying good jobs and exploiting immigrant workers.” (hotelworkersrising.org)

Many progressive causes were represented in the booths spread out along the riverfront. Hundreds lined up to sign ballot initiative petitions to recall the anti-LGBTQ and anti-union governor, Rick Snyder, and to amend the state constitution to protect collective bargaining. Others took literature from student activist groups, [email protected] and support groups for LGBTQ people in African-American, Latino/a and Arab communities.

Members of MECAWI and Workers World Party distributed hundreds of leaflets informing people about the case of CeCe McDonald. Most people were totally unaware about McDonald’s ordeal. Some responses were highly emotional, from “Hearing about that ruined my day” to “Do they just expect us to be victims? I refuse to be a victim.”

McDonald, a young African-American transwoman in Minneapolis, will be sentenced June 4 for second-degree manslaughter after defending herself and friends from a vicious, anti-trans, racist attack in June 2011. The struggle to free McDonald continues. Visit supportcece.wordpress.com for more information.