UPDATE Friday, 7:22 pm: On its LA Pride Instagram page CSW now says that its board of directors is “continuing to meet today and in the days ahead to collaborate with Black leaders and organizations … The previously announced solidarity march scheduled for June 14 is currently being reevaluated through these discussions with more updates to be shared shortly.”
“We would like to apologize for missteps in our rush to create the June 14th solidarity march meant to rally against the systemic social injustice the Black community faces every day. In that truly well-intentioned effort, we realized that we did not first collaborate with enough key leaders and activists in the Black community that have been fighting on the frontlines. For that we offer our sincerest apologies.
“Furthermore, as we quickly mobilized this protest, we proceeded to approach the permitting as we would normally do with organizing the annual LA Pride Parade and directed Jeff Consoletti and JJLA to file the First Amendment permit on our behalf. In that haste, we overlooked the direct police involvement that permitting involves. We understand that clearly goes against the demands for systemic police reform. This police reform is central to the mission of ending police brutality for which so many of you are out in the streets fighting today and every day.
“In this, we recognize the organization’s relationship with the marginalized groups within our own community has been problematic.”
CSW has withdrawn its request for a permit to stage a Pride protest march in West Hollywood on June 14 after Jeff Consoletti, whose JJLA has been instrumental in producing the annual LA Pride parade and festival for many years, said he is stepping away from plans for the march.
“I am stepping away from this event as CSW/LA Pride did not properly inform me or the community of their intentions,” Consoletti said in a mass email message whose recipients included West Hollywood City Council members, City Manager Paul Arevalo and Capt. Edward Ramirez of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station.
Christopher Street West, the non-profit organization that puts on the Pride celebrations in June of every year, had cancelled this year’s parade and festival citing the COVID-19 pandemic. But on Wednesday it announced that it would stage a protest march “in solidarity with the Black community” that would begin in Hollywood and continue on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
The protest march was endorsed by Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu, whose 4th District includes Hollywood and whose deputy chief of staff is Estevan Montemayor, the president of CSW’s board. But it has been criticized by West Hollywood city officials who say that CSW did not reach out to them before announcing the march. They have noted that the city has banned all major events, including Pride and the Halloween Carnaval, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. CSW’s plan for the march also has drawn criticism from black community leaders who say that CSW did not reach out to get them involved.
In posts on her Twitter account, Jasmyne Cannick, a black communications and public affairs strategist, said “if #LAPride wants to show solidarity w/Black folk – and Black folks want that – they can come to where Black folks live. Don’t invite Black folks into anti Black spaces. Y’all had a well known and loved serial killer of Black men in #WeHo for years.” Cannick was referring to Ed Buck, a white gay man who currently is in federal prison awaiting trial on charges related to the deaths from methamphetamine overdoses of two black men in his apartment on North Laurel Avenue. Buck was a donor to the campaigns of several West Hollywood City Council members and was instrumental in getting Councilmember John d’Amico elected to office for the first time in 2011.
“I was a board member for LA Black Pride and now I help organize #SouthLA pride and I can tell you — there’s never been any type of relationship with either when it comes to #LAPride. The stories Black people in Los Angeles can tell about their LA Pride experiences extend decades.”
Gerald Garth, a member of the CSW board of directors and co-chair of its Solidarity March Committee, and Brandon Anthony, a member of Solidarity March Committee, had responded to critics yesterday saying CSW was hearing “the many voices coming from within the Black community and our support for the community is unwavering.” Both Garth and Anthony are black gay men.
As planned, the march would have begun at Hollywood Boulevard at Vine and then entered West Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard, where it would have ended at the intersection with San Vicente Boulevard.
City Councilmember John Duran earlier had called CSW’s plan “bold but reckless on their part,” noting that the organization hadn’t reached out to the City of West Hollywood before announcing the event. Councilmember Lauren Meister said “Our top priority should be the health and welfare of our residents, especially the most vulnerable among us, and the safe opening of our businesses. That’s where our resources should be going. The city has been very clear about its concerns regarding COVID-19 and the need to, at minimum, follow county guidelines. Given the fact that we had a higher per capita rate of infections, I believe our concerns were warranted. That was why we cancelled all events through December 31, 2020.” City Councilmember John Heilman, noting that “a number of people raised concerns about CSW’s proposed march, said “I appreciate CSW for listening to those concerns.”
Mayor Lindsey Horvath told WEHOville that she supported the decision by Madonna Cacciatori, CSW’s executive director, to withdraw its request to the city for a permit.
In response to a question from WEHOville, City Councilmember John D’Amico said it still wasn’t clear what CSW’s plans are. “I would hope that over the weekend and into next week they would make clear their intentions and plans,” he said in a text to WEHOville.