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Black Trans Lives Matter: A BLM Pride Protest cancelled after accusations of tokenization

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CHICAGO — The Black Trans Lives Matter: A BLM Pride Protest planned for tomorrow has been cancelled after Black activists and organizations objected to some of ACTIVATE:CHI associations and accusing them of tokenizing Black people.

LaSaia Wade, executive director of Brave Space Alliance (BSA), posted both on her personal page and the event page that she had learned that ACTIVATE:CHI, which promotes itself as a grassroots organization, had ties to white-owned businesses in Chicago’s Boystown that had a history of discrimination towards people of color.

She also said that Black trans lives were not being centered and used to generate clout for the organization.

Finally, Wade said that ACTIVATE:CHI had encouraged the participation of the Chicago Police Department during the march. The CPD has had a strained relationship, at best, with both the Black and trans communities in Chicago even before the George Floyd Uprising.

“These egregious issues, along with Brave Space Alliance discovering that the Activate Chi’s claim that the march was sponsored by our partners at Black Lives Matter Chicago was false, have led us to decide to completely withdraw our support and presence from this space,” Wade wrote. “In fact, we actively condemn this march, and call upon Activate Chi to do better, cede their platform and funding entirely to Black Trans People from the South and West Side who will be most negatively impacted by a fraudulent march held in our names. We further call on Activate Chi to examine why their privilege and access to moneyed elites within the LGBTQ and North Side business communities would cause them to lend further legitimacy to the brutal, racist, and transphobic Chicago Police Department.”

The BSA is vocally supporting the other protest taking place on Sunday, the Pride Without Prejudice / Reclaim Pride March. The lead speaker at that event is Strawberry Hampton, a Black transgender woman who sued the Illinois Department of Correction over mistreatment and retaliation. She was released last year after suing for clemency.

ACTIVATE:CHI denied the allegations, saying they had partnered with the Northalsted Business Alliance for the access to resources and that the business organization was not involved with the planning of the protest. The group also denied that they were working with the CPD on the protest.

Later Friday evening, ACTIVATE:CHI announced that they were cancelling the event after talking with BSA leadership and some tone deaf responses from some of the group’s members.

Posted on the Facebook event page

The Pride Without Prejudice / Reclaim Pride March is still set for noon on Sunday at the Belmont L station.

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