Transgender Activist Claims Harassment by Deputies at LA Pride

A member of the Reclaim Pride group confronted by a deputy at the LA Pride parade.
A member of the Reclaim Pride group confronted by a deputy at the LA Pride parade. (Photo by Carmen Ocampa)

Bamby Salcedo, a leading transgender activist, has complained that sheriff’s deputies roughed up people participating in the “Reclaim Pride” demonstration at last month’s L.A. Pride parade.

Salcedo voiced her complaint last night at the West Hollywood City Council meeting. She distributed to council members copies of a letter from Ameena Mirza Qazi, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild of L.A., which monitored the incident.

“In light of the tragic deaths in Orlando the night before and the arrest of a heavily armed young man headed to Pride that morning, the city and Sheriff’s Department’s decision to focus their law enforcement resources to aggressively confront peaceful demonstrators was grossly misplaced,” Qazi wrote.

Salcedo, in an interview with WEHOville, said she worked with other leaders of the Trans Latin Coalition to organize a demonstration of their opposition to the direction of the annual L.A. Pride festival. Under new leadership, Christopher Street West (CSW), the non-profit group that produces the parade and festival, had announced it was recasting Pride as a music festival aimed at young people and that it was raising the festival admission price by 40% to 50%. To accommodate the increase in musical performances, CSW had decided to reduce programming focused on the lesbian and transgender communities. That decision prompted threats of a boycott of the event until CSW decided to back down somewhat.

The Pride parade took place on Sunday, June 12, on Santa Monica Boulevard from Crescent Heights to Robertson Boulevard. Salcedo’s Reclaim Pride group assembled with coffins made of cardboard. “Each of the coffins had different messages,” she said. “One for was for youth, one was for the elderly, one was for immigrants and so on … Our message was to stop killing our culture. The Pride movement, the gay movement, started not as a parade but as a revolution. We wanted to send a message that now more than ever we needed to organize. Pride is not about getting drunk and wasted. Pride is not about making money, for people to be charged to get into festivals. Pride is about being who we are.”

Bamby Salcedo.

“Before the parade started we sort of blocked the parade to send a message,” Salcedo said. “The organizers of CSW came to me and said just go to the front and lead the parade.”

Salcedo said that suddenly some 20 deputies on motorcycles appeared behind her group “trying to intimidate us …. When we were past LaCienega (Boulevard), we did a die-in. Obviously that slowed down the parade. That was the whole idea.”

“Then all of a sudden, just out of the blue, we saw the riot squad just pulling to the side. I told everyone to get up. There were officers in full gear. We all got up and started walking. They came and told us to move to the side. We said no, we’re parading like everybody else … We just continued walking. Then they started pushing people. They got our coffins and started tearing them up.”

Salcedo acknowledged that law enforcement officers might have been especially nervous because of the massacred of LGBT people earlier that day at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. “I understand that Orlando happened, but that doesn’t mean that we get to be mistreated and marginalized.”

Capt. Holly Perez, who heads the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, said she has asked one of her lieutenants to look into the complaint from Salcedo and Qazi.

“Whether it is a perception of inappropriate interaction or it is actual inappropriate interaction, that is a concern,” Perez said.

Perez, who was named captain in February, has initiated several efforts to have members of the sheriff’s station interact more often with the community. They included releasing a weekly local crime report and “coffee with the captain” and local walk-abouts that allow her and other key officers to meet and talk with residents.

  1. Why did she wait 4 weeks to bring the issue up to the City Council? Why didn’t they bring this up sooner? There was a city council meeting on June 20th. It seems like they planned this to get the most attention rather than addressing a real issue and coming up with real solutions.

  2. “Before the parade started we sort of blocked the parade to send a message,” Salcedo said. “The organizers of CSW came to me and said just go to the front and lead the parade.”

    ‘We sort of”???? Seriously? Clearly no one from CSW gave them any such direction or authorization. Their whole intent was to disrupt the parade and make this all about them. Not the first nor last time the trans community as done this. Then predictably, they claim to be the victim. If there is a reason why so many in the community does not support the T in LGBT . . this is EXACTLY why.

  3. “We said no…” Only people that have an issue with the police are the ones that are non-compliant with them. If you disagree with a police officer’s instructions, take it up with their chain of command or have your day in court. You will NEVER win on the street, the police officers are in charge and if you don’t comply, you will have a problem, they won’t. They are there to do a job and protect people. If they tell you to move… move. I was taught that at a very early age. Grow up. Be smart.

  4. Why would they use coffins as a symbol to convey their point? It just seems very insensitive given the news of that day. I also agree that police were on high alert that day since there was misinformation about a plot to harm LA Pride. I agree with the reason for the protest, I just don’t agree with the way they did it.

  5. I am sorry. but that first picture looks way more like the deputy was trying to be gentle and back off, and the person with her arm drawn back seems like the inflamed one. I just don’t believe that any other group who staged a ‘die out’ and blocked the parade route would have received any different treatment. The sheriffs were there to make sure things went smoothly, and I don’t see them saying, ‘hey, you all are not Transgendered, so you go on ahead and stop this parade by laying in the street’ to any group that did so unexpectedly. Let’s get real, Orlando did happen, the guy was arrested in Santa Monica, so naturally, the Sheriffs were on high alert, and I am glad they were. Perhaps if you had notified them of your plans before the event, then none of this would have happened. Neither you or the Sheriffs are mind-readers and can’t assume anything about each other.

  6. It’s funny how no one was talking about me being handcuffed in the beginning of LA PRIDE, because i was having AMERICAN FLAG, AMERICAN FLAG AND RAINBOW FLAG, wearing the ” Holocaust ” gay victim with our famous PINK TRIANGLE, i must say the captain and her team had to follow our fake leaders request to remove me from pride, our sheriff even escort me to my home. just so our “fake pride” looks good. the “spend” 10 min talking about Orlando and the party, music, drugs and sex kept going. Sorry, but this is sick, 49 dead, 53 in the hospital ??? What kind of city we are?
    so sad, City of 2 face, fake fame.
    i never asked to stop “pride” i asked for respect for those who lost they lives to hate.
    but in WEHO, first it’s money then it’s “political correct” B.S. so we “look good.
    so sad, we are nothing but “reality show” and for sure not a good one.
    we are victims of our own lives.

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