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Gay Pride Parade Hosts Pageantry and Protests

CHICAGO, JUN. 24 - Sidewalks fill with people on this hot, sunny afternoon in the Lakeview community. Most wear sunglasses and skin-baring summer clothes. A thin, black dog with a yellow lei around its neck strolls by, leading its owner.

A sturdy man in his 40s walks by with a bare chest and suspenders. He sports a smallish leather cap and sunglasses. Another man, thin, in his late 20s, has a pink-and-light-blue theme going. His light-blue pajama pants set off his oversized pink cowboy hat. The pink lettering on his t-shirt reads "Re-elect Gore in 2004." His little pink-dyed dog energetically greets everyone around.

Around Roscoe and Halsted a man holds his lover from behind, occasionally nibbling his ear and talking to him. A woman nearby paints rainbow flags on people's arms. A couple of men in their 50s walk hand-in-hand in the street before the parade starts. One is a light-complexioned black man, the other is a bald white guy. They walk upright and straight-faced past the audience behind the crowd-control fence. Soap bubbles fill a sidewalk at Belmont and Halsted, churning out of an apartment overhead. A lone sign on the corner reads "Stop Police Brutality." A tight-skinned man in his early 20s sports an outfit consisting of an Egyptian headdress with matching broad collar and small black shorts.

Atop their gleaming red motorcycles pairs of women in black leather sit with their female partners. Many have rainbow scarves holding their hair back. As foot traffic goes by one vrooms her bike and cuts into the crowd for effect.

A group of about 40 protestors waits on the sidelines at Belmont at Halsted. One reports that they'll be entering the parade in front of Dick Devine, the city's States Attorney. Another mentions that several protestors have stickered a nearby Starbucks shop with stickers that read "The Queer Revolution will not be rainbowified, commercialized, and sold to the enemy." Several female protestors are bare-chested, with only black X's of tape over their nipples. Some are clad all in black, and a couple have black face-masks.

As a group of five State of Illinois mounted police move out into the parade route on horseback they clear a path for several politicians' cars to move past them. The protestors decide to start, and they fill in the width of the street, unfurling their banners. The group is led by people holding up large signs that show huge photos of three people that have suffered gender-related attacks: Terry Phalen, Kentin Watts, and Freddie Mason, Jr.

The group begins a chant: "No justice, no peace / Prosecute the police!" It becomes interspersed with a different ending: "No justice, no peace / No racist police!" Ten people hold up small placards that all read "Dick Devine - Prosecute Corrupt and Brutal Cops!" An individual placard reads "We're here, we're queer, we're ready to rumble. If you mess with us you got big trouble. Queers Against Police Brutality."

At one point in the parade the group puts up a chant of "Racist cops must be stopped / Do your fucking job, Dick!"

People seem mostly subdued as the protestors go by. At times small groups of people either begin talking among themselves or even let out large cheers for the group.

Wanting Dick Devine's van to catch up to them, the protestors move to the side to wait. Presently they see it and move in front of it. Their large, street-spanning pink banner stretches over the front of the Devine van, reading "Hey, Dick -- Get Hard -- End Police Brutality." A couple of undercover police officers talk among themselves as the protestors toward the rear turn around to chant at Devine's "Law Mobile."

A woman and two guys are in "radical cheerleader" outfits, red-and-black skirts with white t-shirts. They hang back and do some small cheers as a sort of stand-off ensues.

Kool & The Gang's "Celebrate" competes with the "Racist Cops..." chant. A WGN camera crew takes a moment to interview a banner-holder while the parade stops.

The Law Mobile decides to hold back while the bulk of the group of radicals moves ahead, creating a large gap that becomes a block long. Several activists run up and down the sidelines handing out handbills detailing their politics. One activist takes short stints at attempting to explain to the crowd that Devine doesn't prosecute gay-bashing crimes.

The rear of the group ends the stand-off and gradually rejoins the front part. They chant along the way, "Dick Devine, you can't hide / We charge you with genocide!" The back end satires a popular song with "Who let the pigs out? Dick, Dick-Dick-Dick."

The radical cheerleaders perform at a bend in the parade's route. In front of four Chicago cops and others the 4 young women and 2 guys in red-and-black cheerleader outfits do a pom-pom routine with a virtually inaudible cheer. At the end 2 of the 4 cops clap along with some of the crowd.

Turning south on Broadway the crowd thickens on the narrower street. "Acting straight takes lots of cash / HRC can kiss my ass!" is followed by "No justice, no peace / No gay-bashing police!". A large Mumia banner appears within the group, depicting a painted rendition of the famed political prisoner. A woman in nerdish office attire joins her friend who wears a feminine black dress.

At Broadway and Diversey the protestors edge to the side and wait for the Devine van to catch up again. They quickly surround it, lifting two banners to overshadow it. The Mumia banner covers its left side and the chants once again compete with the recorded music. Three Devine aides argue with protestors who have put themselves in front of the van. Others dance further in front. Presently an organizer comes over and persuades the protestors to move away from the van. Others seem to fill in the space just as quickly.

With the end of the parade route the protestors cheer then boo the Devine van as it pulls away.




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