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‘We Are One’: Spokane group marches in unity for the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter

UPDATED: Sat., June 27, 2020

About 100 people waved Pride flags and held up signs supporting Black lives as they marched to create unity in the community and create visibility for the LGBTQ community on Saturday.

In the middle of the crowd, holding a sign that read “Hate does not make America great” was Alena Alvarez-Saldivar, who is lesbian and identifies as Chicana.

“Both communities face oppression,” she said referring to the Black and LGBTQ communities . “A lot of people are seeing so much civil unrest and silence is violence.”

The event was led by Joshua Awesome, co-creator of Kind Living Collective, and Dustin Jolly, an organizer for Occupy Spokane, with the goal of celebrating the LGBTQ community during the final days of Pride month and to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

It’s important to come together as a community, stand in solidarity with protests happening around the world and bring to light all of the atrocities minorities are facing around the world, Jolly said.

A lot of Black trans and LGBTQ people face increased violence on the basis of their identity, he said.

“We need to have conversations with our families, friends and neighbors about what is really happening around the world,” Jolly said.

The “We Are One” march, the name given to the demonstration by organizers, took place as the Trump administration announced plans this month to roll back health care protections for transgender people.

The administration announced the end of a policy prohibiting discrimination against transgender patients on June 12, four years to the day after the deadly shooting in Florida that left 49 people dead. The move drew outcry from the community supporting transgender rights, while those supporting the decision said the policy could have required doctors to perform gender reassignment surgeries and abortions.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court handed supporters of gay and transgender rights a victory by ruling that the federal Civil Rights law protected the community from discrimination in the workplace.

As marchers arrived at the Pavilion in Riverfront Park, some began to write in chalk on the sidewalk in support of the LGBTQ community and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Others sat down to listen to poems and listen to names of Black trans people, non-binary people and other members of the LGBTQ community who have been murdered or been victims of hate crimes.

Sitting on her own was 16-year-old Naomi Bailey, who was sporting a white sweater with colorful Black Lives Matter lettering. She carried a backpack full of water bottles to hand out to marchers and milk, in case the small rally would be met with tear gas or rubber bullets, she said.

It’s amazing to see people spreading love and coming out today, but it’s disappointing that protests have stopped throughout the week, she said.

“Where’s the passion?” she asked. “Sitting around isn’t going to change anything.”

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