By Kassie Hartendorp (Fightback Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellingt0n), originally published on her personal blog Guts Out.
These are some observations in the wake of the protests against a police presence in the Auckland Pride march, and the violence towards one of the protestors, Emmy, which took place afterwards. There have been amazing pieces written in a short space of time, and I encourage you to click on the links at the end if you would like more context.
1. Everything is influenced by power, therefore everything is politics. The rationale of neo-liberal capitalism convinces us that this is not the case. Politics is something that happens in Parliament by people we ‘choose’ every three years to talk about politics. To say politics belong in a Pride march would almost be pointless because the two are inseparable. If a Pride march is already political, then saying anything otherwise is inaccurate, disingenuous and serves to silence, erase and dismiss those who actively discuss issues of power.
2. If the Pride march is political, then why are people concerned about others ‘bringing politics’ into it? The politics are already there, they are just being more clearly revealed and discussed. The real issue is often that people do not want to be confronted with the issues that still affect marginalised groups, the fissures that can run deep among our communities and the many flaws in our (hetero/cis normative, white supermacist, patriarchal capitalist) system.
3. Whenever there is an interruption in the status quo, such as a protest, people will always find ways to discredit the interrupters. You will not be the first or the last to comment on ‘better ways’ the protester could have protested. This is a normal reaction to challenges towards power.
4. Whenever there is physical violence at the hands of those in more power, against those who are powerless, people will find ways to justify why the powerless deserved it. You will not be the last to seek a reason for why a Māori transwoman deserved to have her arm broken by security guards – what she could have done to bring this on herself.
5. Talking about ‘peace’ or the ‘peaceful right of protest’ in this context, will almost always favour those in more power. It usually assumes that the current state of existence for everyone is peaceful and ignores structural violence that takes place on varying levels to marginalised communities. Who decides what is peace and what is violence? Who determines what is an ‘overreaction‘ or what is ‘dangerous’?
6. When people act in protest – true conflicts and contradictions are revealed. Take note of where you stand.
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