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Boston Straight Pride Parade leads to multiple arrests

by Brianna Bush - Executive Editor
Tue, Sep 10th 2019 11:00 pm
Protestors rallying in support of SPP.
Protestors rallying in support of SPP.

On Saturday, Aug. 31, the streets of Boston, Mass. were lined with members of the LGBTQ community — protesting as the Straight Pride Parade (SPP) made its way through the city.

A straight pride parade was rumored back in June, to combat Pride Month when the LGBTQ community is able to celebrate its identities. SPP was masterminded by a group called Super Happy Fun America (SHFA), run by John Hugo, Mark Sahady and Samson Racioppi.

“[The event celebrating] heterosexuality in one of the nation’s most gay-friendly cities is meant to poke fun at the ‘identity politics’ of the political left,” Sahady wrote on Facebook.

In an article on wbur.org, Boston Pride stated “the Straight Pride Parade is organized by a group of white supremacists and is an attempt to bait the Boston LGBTQ community.” It advises people not to respond to the “trolling.”

The parade itself consisted of “a few hundred people and half-dozen floats.” SHFA even created its own straight pride flag with Brad Pitt as its mascot, which was met with severe backlash and was later taken down.

Almost 1,000 protestors from the LGBTQ community were in attendance in order to make sure their voices were heard. The parade featured Trump 2020 floats and “straight lives matter” signs, a jab at the “Black Lives Matter” movement. SHFA argue that they are an “oppressed majority.”

“I’m outraged by the idea that straight people need a pride parade,” said Shoshanna Ehrlich, who came with her daughter, according to CNN. “We are not an oppressed majority by any stretch of the imagination. This is full of hate and is offensive.”

During the parade, 34 of the protesters were arrested, with four Boston Police officers injured during the protest. The officers were seen dousing the protesters in pepper spray while protecting those who marched in the parade, angering the protesters more.

According to CNN, Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott refused to dismiss the charges, even after Suffolk County prosecutors moved to dismiss a few of them. He arraigned many of the defendants anyway. 

Susan Church, a defense attorney representing protesters, objected and interrupted Sinnott to argue he did not have the authority to do that. Sinnott then ordered her to be handcuffed and placed her in custody for contempt of court.

“The actions of Judge Richard Sinnott are unprecedented and outrageous,” Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said. “His insistence on arraigning individuals when my office has used its discretion to decline a case is an unconstitutional abuse of his power and serves neither the interests of justice nor public safety.”

In Rollins’ petition requesting the Supreme Judicial Court order Sinnott to accept the dismissal of charges against one protester accused of disorderly conduct, she said Sinnott refused to recognize the dismissals because the district attorney’s office failed to comply with the state Victim’s Bill of Rights.

“The judge contended that the Commonwealth could not file a nolle prosequi without notifying the parade organizers because they, essentially, could be considered ‘victims’ whose First Amendment right to free speech had been impeded by the defendant’s protest,” the petition said.

In addition, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers called for an investigation and formal inquiry into the matter.

“I was treated better than criminal defendants, but I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Church said. “I didn’t know if I was going home that night, I didn’t know if I was going to see my kids. I had court paperwork to file so I had to have someone do that for me.”

Both Rollins and Church have been working to help free the protesters who have been arrested. They are taking a stand against the creators of the SPP, and those like Hugo, who have their own beliefs. 

“The day will come when straights will finally be included as equals among all of the other orientations,” Hugo said on the SHFA website.

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