Dyke March Turns to Community Policing to Keep LGBTQI Community Safe
At the 2017 Dyke March, three women carrying a rainbow flag with the Jewish Star of David were deemed as displaying zionist views. The women were asked to leave the event by members of the Chicago Dyke March Collective, the organizers of the annual Dyke March, amid much controversy. Later, the CDMC released a since-deleted statement on their website confirming that they are deliberately anti-zionist and pro-Palestinian.
Chicago’s Dyke March has served as an alternative to the annual Pride Parade for queer people of color since 1996. They’ve taken the stance of anti-zionism and pro-Palestinian as these movements intersect with their stance on the role of law enforcement.
Dyke March is vehemently against institutional law enforcement, and was started in an effort to mitigate queer people of color feeling unsafe at events celebrating pride. The more mainstream Pride Parade has always had a heavy presence of law enforcement.
“Dyke March was created for all the folks Pride seemed to forget—trans people, black people and people of color, indigenous people, disabled people, dykes and other queer women, the list goes on,” said Sarah Youssef who volunteers with CDMC.
Dyke March’s efforts to lessen police presence is considered a form of nonviolence. As an alternative to law enforcement, the CDMC relies on “safety marshalls” as their form of community policing.These are volunteers who endure thorough training in order to keep the event safe.
“They're the reason we can avoid police and instead rely on each other to deescalate counter protesters, keep the community clean, and help mediate any issues that come up,” said Youssef.
Joseph Varisco, the founder of QUEER, ILL + OKAY, reached out to the CDMC and proposed the idea of his organization’s artists performing at this year’s Dyke March. He reached out because he felt that CDMC's agenda coincided with the mission of QIO. Both organizations aim to create a safe space for marginalized groups within the LGBTQIA community.
“I really embrace and appreciate the Dyke March’s stance on community policing,” said Varisco.
Caridá Diaz, a queer Afro-Latina artist, attended the annual Pride Parade in 2017 and felt as if there was a higher presence of law enforcement compared to previous years. “It felt like I was being corralled,” said Diaz, explaining that community policing is an effective way to keep the peace without the risk of law enforcement harassing queer people of color. Although she did not attend the Pride Parade this year, she engaged in other “Pride Month” related festivities.
“If it was a requirement to have some queer policemen policing pride, I think there would be a better understanding of what that event means,” said Diaz.
Many groups in Chicago are actively working to combat violence in their communities. On July 7, a protest took place that shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway as people came together to protest ongoing violence..
Police worked with protestors and allowed them to march on the expressway. A large, intergenerational group of people came together supporting and comforting each other as they discussed how they were affected by gun violence. Father Michael Phleger, Rev. Jesse Jackson and their congregation at St. Sabina Catholic Church organized the event.
“We came out here to do one thing,” said Phleger. “To shut it down.”