Monday, June 29, 2020

From City Hall Autonomous Zone to a Drag March, Skate Parks and CUNY Marches, and an Endless Procession


Scenes from the 26th Drag March. 



CUNY students, faculty, and community members, joined by elected officials participated on a march from Brooklyn Borough Hall to the Defund The Police Occupation at City Hall on June 27, 2020 demanding the city administration to redirect funds from the New York Police Department to the City University of New York (CUNY), which serves predominantly low-income black and brown students. (Photo and caption by Erik McGregor) — with Benjamin Heim Shepard.
"Join the March this Saturday, June 27th. Call out City and State elected officials to fund CUNY, not cops! If you have any questions about this flyer, please do not hesitate to contact me or your USS delegate from your campus."



Image from the street. 
Erik McGregor

Bike Bloc. 
Cherry Pitts made an appearance. 
photo by Jackie Rudin


The streets of New York are always changing, as are our lives.
Each day we walk out the door, our streets are changing.
People coming and going, public streets filling with bodies, ideas, art,
Friends dropping by, walking into the public commons.
Conflicts take shape and we strike to resolve them.
We hope to feed the poor and learn who we are.
We meet friends, cope with challenges, grieve for the dead, learn about others, and hopefully find ourselves.
These are spaces for oppression and expression.
On Tuesday, activists converged on City Hall to demand the city council take one billion out of the police budget and supply it for human needs, housing, healthcare, services, etc.
We take care of ourselves becomes a slogan

On Tuesday, the teenager and I drive to drop off food in upper
Manhattan and the Bronx, delivering food to LGBT youth for New Alternatives, passing homeless on the street, new street murals, candles, chalk, photos and makeshift memorials outside of buildings.  This is a site you see repeated over and over again, street memorials for the dead.

'Those are his kids,' says an onlooker, chatting on the sidewalk, kidney failure, cops, covid, lots of losses, many more bearing witness, or helping those who remain cope.

Some days we meet at the beach.
Others at the city hall autonomous zone.
At night, we review it all on the roof at Sunset.
 Everything is happening in the sky.
Light dancing.
Renegade fireworks. 
Conspiracy theories and stories.
Sounds of birds, ambulances, conversations, Brooklyn alive.

June is the most thrilling month of the year here.
Liberation in the air, anniversaries of riots,
Drag, Dyke, and Queer marches.
Liberation bike rides.
Marches for CUNY Not Cops.
I try to do it all.
Stonewall 50 was a grand party.
But how would it happen in this strangest of years 2020?

At Larry Kramer’s funeral, Hucklefaery Kan and I talked about what would happen with the 26th drag march the last Friday in June.
Official pride events were canceled.
But as we learned that night and the month to follow, protests outside with masks and social distance do not seem to spread covid 19.
There has been no spike in cases in the month of daily protests since that conversation.
We might just meet in the park and see what happens.

Earlier in the week,
Hucklefaery Ken wrote to Drag March Madness:  
It's beginning to feel like the early years of the Drag March, spontaneous and organic...
Folks show up between 7pm and 8pm in Tompkins Square Park, and we organize, circle and march...
Perhaps it goes without saying, but for redundancy and clarity:
If the Drag March does manifest, should we not mindfully/respectfully explore a context of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and specifically Black Trans Lives Matter?
[Oh, &... Please wear a mask.]
In magic and solidarity ...

All day Friday, I zip about going to the skatepark with the teenager, to City Hall autonomous zone, where people are sleeping out demanding a cut in the police budget of one billion dollars.
You see a demand to shift funding to human needs, not social control. This is what we need to see, says one man gesturing at the park full of people sharing food, talking, sharing, building, painting, reading, composting, students speaking up, everyone sharing space together. It's the hope for a better day. People ride bikes at night and dance and march...hoping for something. How long before police crack down ? Will we have already won?

That night, Tompkins Square Park is full of people, playing ping pong, hanging out, chatting away, everyone but the faeries.
Where were the faeries?
One by one, friends arrive, Church Ladies, members of Rev Billy’s choir, Randolfe Wicker, talking about the Sip In at Julius, Brian aka Harmony Moore, wondering how many more women have to suffer illegal botched abortions, Steve, my friend for World Naked Bike Rides, Sarah Sparkles, Karen R, from WHAM, friend after friend.
I miss seeing Elizabeth Meixell, of WHAM, here.
Elizabeth was part of the first drag marches, coming regularly until only a few years ago.
The kids show up, both of them, the teenager on roller skates, the youngster, who helped do my make up.

Each year its different, critical masses zooming past,
Marching into the night chanting, movements connecting and overlapping.
Black Trans Lives Matter.

At the Stonewall, we sing for Judy.
Recalling the night she died and the riot that followed.
Somewhere over the rainbow.
March after march through time.

After the March, I sit to talk with JC and Babs about our day and the solidarity between the drag and the Black Lives Matter movements.

I was carrying my sign for Amanda Milan, a trans woman killed on June 20, 2020, near the New York City bus terminal.
Sylvia was there.
But not enough remember.
We’re still marching for her.

JC was carrying a sign for
The police tried to search his bag.
Fourth Amendment be damned.
And they killed him because he looks different.
They pick on those on the outside, the teenagers, the youth, the immigrants, the outsiders, arbitrarily deciding who can do what and walk where.

We’re still marching for them.
Still marching for something better together,
Creating a more abundant public sphere capable of including difference.
The streets of New York in June are open.
Can we stay open enough for everyone?
Can we do what’s right?
Can we learn?
Support schools and education and connection with each other,
As we see at the City Hall Autonomous Zone where we march on Saturday,
Across the Brooklyn Bridge together.

Where we bike together later that day.
Zooming through the summer.

Until our legs are tired or we get a second wind and do it again. 









































































































































































































































































































































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