Thousands of people marched down the streets of St Kilda, south of Melbourne, yesterday for the annual Victorian LGBTQIA+ pride march at Midsumma festival.
Queer and ally police officers were among the marchers, joining the celebration when about 50 people tried to block the officers’ way.
Some of them were chanting ‘cops kill gays’ and there were banners that read ‘no cops at pride’, with outward aggression from both sides. The conflict has sparked debate over whether police officers should be permitted in pride marches while in uniform.
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Victorian Police Commissioner Shane Patton was quick to condemn the protesters:
“To detract from the LGBTQI+ community and the community of Melbourne is quite abhorrent and I have nothing but contempt for them.”
A statement from Vic Pol claims the group surrounded the officers to try to stop them from participating in the event.
One witness has told the ABC that some police that moved in to disperse the protesters tore their banners and threw punches. A 34-year-old man was arrested in relation to the protest.
CRYM (Civil Resistance Youth Movement) said in a statement that claims that ‘paint bombs’ were thrown at police were false when there were only a few bottles of paint and a single coffee cup, and the only intended target of paint was protestors, for theatrical purposes.
They said the pink paint involved was to signify the “pink-washing” of Pride and the “corporate co-opting of its radical history.”
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