Demonstrators call for end to police presence at Philly Pride events

Maddie Rose of Philly Socialists calls for the release of a trans woman who was arrested after attempting to burn a Blue Lives Matter flag at the Philly Pride Parade. Protesters gathered outside City Hall.

Maddie Rose of Philly Socialists calls for charges to be dismissed against a trans woman who was arrested after attempting to burn a Blue Lives Matter flag at the Philly Pride Parade. Protesters gathered outside City Hall. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A few dozen people rallied at City Hall Wednesday, calling for an end to any police presence at Philadelphia Pride events, even though police are typically present for parades of such size. The demonstration was spurred by the arrest of ReeAnna Segin, a transgender woman who set fire to a “Blue Lives Matter” flag during the city’s June 10 Philly Pride Parade.

Chanting, “Tell those transphobic cops we don’t need them,” Segin’s supporters said they were outraged that she was sent to a men’s prison.

“Her incorrect name was released by the police, her incorrect gender was released by the police, and then she was sent to a men’s prison — which, for transgender women, can be extremely dangerous,” said Maddie Rose, a member of the Philly Socialists who organized the rally.

At the rally, Segin talked about decades of abuse endured by transgender people at the hands of the police.

“No one deserves to be made to feel like they are less than human,” she said. “That’s why I aspire to help others like me.”

ReeAnna Segin, a transgender woman who set fire to a “Blue Lives Matter” flag during the city’s June 10 Philly Pride Parade, speaks at a rally outside City Hall. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Shani Akilah from the Black and Brown Workers Collective, says she supports the effort to have District Attorney Larry Krasner drop the remaining misdemeanor charges against Segin.

“ReeAnna did something that I believe is revolutionary. So, yes, we stand in complete solidarity with ReeAnna, and we stand in complete solidarity with the Philly Socialists. This is just the beginning,” said Akilah.

Later Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Jim Kenney said a city settlement with female inmates who alleged sexual abuse from a transgender inmate in 2012 influenced the decision to place Segin in the men’s facility.

Kenney made the comments after signing two laws removing gendered language from city codes.

“I think the regulations today are based in that experience — we’re looking at this now to see what we can actually do. Some people want to be in isolation, some people don’t,” he said. “The problem with regulatory action is that it won’t cover every circumstance.”

Kenney says he expects Krasner will consider dropping the remaining charges of recklessly endangering another person and possessing an instrument of crime. But he said using a flammable liquid to set a fire in the middle of a parade is dangerous to the public.

Rose, who said she isn’t sold on the regulations, said Segin was targeted for political reasons.

“My take is that it is … absolutely not good enough. What would really make a difference would be if police stopped targeting transgender people,” said Rose.

 

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