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Anarchists Attempt to Disrupt Seattle Pride Weekend

by Shaun Knittel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Jun 30, 2011

Several hundred anarchists marred Seattle Pride weekend when they vandalized stores and smashed windows in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood early on Sunday, June 26.

According to the Seattle Police Department, the disturbance began shortly after midnight when a flash mob gathered to dance. It soon grew out of control and began to create havoc.

Witnesses say the anarchists marched down 12th Avenue and Broadway, yelling and chanting. Some carried rainbow flags; others wore masks and carried red-and-black flags. The group ultimately began to smash storefront windows and spray paint slogans-the anarchists even broke a patrol car's windshield. The SPD reported the mob also damaged a bank ATM.

Armed with gas masks and riot gear, officers swarmed the crowd of anarchists. They arrested one person and Tasered another.

The crowd quickly dispersed.

SPD officials say the mob action did not appear to be directly linked with the weekend's gay Pride festivities. A post on the anarchists' website, however, said the flash mob was a protest over what they described as the assimilation of gay Pride into the commercial mainstream-a radical LGBT group used similar rhetoric to justify the vandalism of the Human Rights Campaign's Washington, D.C., store early on Wednesday, June 29.

"Right before midnight last night, near everyone's favorite gay bar, big groups of people began to assemble on the corners of 12th and Madison. Anxiety and excitement filled the air as everyone waited for the music to start," posted the Seattle anarchists on their website. "At the stroke of midnight, the music started, unfortunately quietly, but the energy in the crowd surpassed the need for music and people jumped and cheered with their friends. The crowd began to move quickly turning down a quiet street, which was occupied by one of the anti-youth 'beer gardens', people jumped on the fence attempting to tear it down as others ran around attacking two empty police cars on the street."

What started as a crowd of 200 shrunk to roughly 150 after the anarchists smashed the police car's windshield.

"But the fabulously queer and fierce crowd continued down Broadway, the main drag of Capitol Hill, the music could barely be heard yet the screams and cheers of everyone running through the streets penetrated the normally banal existence of the Hill," continued the anarchists' blog post. "A Bank of America ATM was smashed in front of the now 100 or so group of defiant queers. The cops were tailing still at this point but were not willing to advance. Chants of "We're here, we're queer, we're anarchists, will fuck you up" or the same except for "We're fabulous, will fuck you up. Toward the end an American Apparel was descended upon as a majority of the windows were broken. At this point people began to run as the number of cops increased behind the crowd," said the anarchists.

What had started as a dance party quickly transformed into a confrontational presence of anti-Pride rowdy queers. The anarchists further explained that a large number of people who congregated in Capitol Hill were most concerned about being loud and defiant in the street.

"Being out and proud in a way that Pride was supposed to originally represent, in the way of Stonewall," they concluded. "Regardless of the yuppie LGBT community's agenda of assimilation into capitalism, tonight has made it clear again that there are always those who will never submit to the ruling class's dream of assimilation and "tolerance"."

Pride Parade Draws More than 250,000 to Downtown Seattle
In spite of the anarchists, more than an estimated 250,000 people lined the streets of downtown Seattle for the Emerald City's annual Pride parade on Sunday, June 26.

Hosted by local drag superstars Gaysha Starr, Aleksa Manila, Mama Tits and Sylvia O'Stayformore, the parade boasted 180 contingents with 4,500 marchers and 134 floats and vehicles.

"The 2011 Seattle Pride season has been one for the record books," Seattle Out and Proud Board President Adam Rosencrantz told EDGE. "Not only did we see a huge success and turn out for our events, but the LGBT community has seen many advances in our efforts towards equality."

Bars and nightclubs in Capitol Hill-Seattle's gayborhood-have a long history of throwing massive block parties and this year was no different. Purr Cocktail Lounge, Wild Rose and the Cuff all threw raging parties that allowed Seattleites to celebrate the Pride.

Riding the wave of excitement surrounding "RuPaul's Drag Race", Seattle saw its fair share of drag superstardom with Shannel, Jessica Wild and India Ferrah at Le Faux at Julia's on Broadway. Jujubee and Sonique performed at R Place.

"American Idol"'s Kimberly Caldwell and recording artist Thea Austin joined Randy Blue exclusive models Micah Brandt, Travis James and Chris Rockway at Neighbours. R Place flew in porn stars Bobby Clark, JR Matthews, Preston Steel and Jimmy Durano.

Controversy over the Space Needle's initial refusal to hoist the Pride flag preceded this year's celebration, but the iconic building raised the banner at 8 a.m. on June 26-four hours before the parade began.

Space Needle officials had challenged the community to raise $50,000 for four LGBT charities. That goal was met.

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News.


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