People marched from Polk street and City Hall to Castro District on June 28, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF Pride’s 50th anniversary marked by protest and calls for police reform

With cancellation of official parade, event goes back to its political roots

While organizers canceled the official in-person celebration this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of people still descended on the streets of San Francisco Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of San Francisco Pride.

Marking a return to Pride’s more-political roots, people rallied across The City, from Polk Street and Dolores Park to City Hall and the Bayview, calling for both LGBTQ rights and police reforms, reflecting the heightened scrutiny of police practices brought about by the death of George Floyd and other African Americans.

A large group gathered at Polk and Washington streets, the site of the city’s first Pride March 50 years ago, when people gathered to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in New York, which had occurred the previous year in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. Then, they marched to City Hall and Castro while a second group gathered at Dolores Park and marched through The Mission and Castro despite reports that police may have attempted to halt their progress.

Meanwhile, an iconic symbol of queer pride and resistance, the Pink Triangle, lit up the sky over the Castro District Saturday night for its 25th year.

People marched from Polk street and City Hall to Castro District on June 28, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Jim Martinez, a 63-year-old San Francisco resident, paid tribute to former Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay elected official in California.

“If Harvey Milk was still alive, he would be in the front lines …” Martinez said. “I miss Harvey Milk. He’s my icon. He [fought] for us and the rights of everybody.”

Succeeding Milk after he was assassinated in 1978 was former Supervisor Harry Britt, the openly gay and longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community, who died Wednesday at the age of 82 due to health complications.

“[Britt] was pivotal in changing and fighting the systems that would allow for police officers to just go into gay bars and beat people,” said Brad Chapin, a mentee of Britt and board member of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club.

“He was a huge advocate for police reform,” Chapin continued. “And in the end, I think what he really believed was [that] we need to significantly reduce funding for the police and stop throwing police officers at every social problem.”

People marched from Polk street and City Hall to Castro District on June 28, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Led by a car caravan, people marched from Polk street to City Hall and the Castro District as they chanted “defund SFPD,” “black-trans lives matter” and “white silence is violence.”

“As non-brown and black people, this is your testimony. This is where you say: ‘enough,” Alex U. Inn, a co-organizer of the rally and founder of the Drag King House of KINGDOM!, told the crowd at City Hall.

The crowd cheered in response: “Enough.”

“You come down this street in unity,” Inn said. “You come down this street as people together. You come down this street as hearts that want to make a change. This is how beautiful you are.”

The rally comes just over a week after the Juneteenth holiday when people flooded the city’s streets to commemorate the end of slavery in the Unites States and push for police reform.

“We need to stop this racism and police brutality,” Martinez said. “I’m here to show my support because we need to defund the police department.”

People marched from Polk street and City Hall to Castro District on June 28, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

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