Boston’s first-ever “Straight Pride Parade” kicked off in Boston on Saturday to dueling reactions. Dozens of police officers populated the parade route to try to keep the peace as counter-protestors rallied at City Hall.
The parade began at Copley Square and ends Saturday afternoon at City Hall, where there are speakers expected. Police officers are behind City Hall Plaza in riot gear, CBS Boston reported.
Organizers were given a four-hour permit starting at noon. Police said they expected more counter-protesters than actual parade-goers to join the conclusion of the parade at City Hall.
“We’re here to celebrate our community. We’re here to show up in the face of hate with love and joy,” one protester told CBS Boston. “We should celebrate our differences and celebrate the ways in which people from all backgrounds have contributed to this country.”
According to CBS Boston, hundreds of counter-demonstrators have already gathered at City Hall. At least two people were arrested along the parade route just as it started, but it’s not yet clear whether they were parade participants or protesters.
The parade is taking place just outside Emerson College, which has canceled events and restricted access to certain buildings.
“The organizers of the Straight Pride Parade have long and well-documented ties to white supremacists and anti-immigrant movements,” a protester said. “In general, they are fascists who believe that they are the only acceptable type of being.”
One of the largest floats in the parade featured “Trump 2020” and “Build the Wall,” among other phrases coined by President Trump.
The organization Super Happy Fun America, which claims to advocate “on behalf of the straight community in order to foster respect and awareness with people from all walks of life,” planned the event. The parade appeared to be a reaction to the city’s rejection of the group’s application to raise its “straight pride flag” at Boston’s City Hall earlier this spring.
“We are [disappointed] that the Walsh administration has chosen hate and discrimination,” a blog post on the site from April 20 reads. “Therefore, we have decided to launch a campaign to educate the public, politicians, and civil servants about the straight community and the unique problems we face. We have determined that a parade would be the best way to promote our community and its diverse history, culture, and identity. We anticipate that the city will eventually choose to embrace tolerance and inclusivity.”
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