Protesters Disrupt Nellie Fitzpatrick’s Award Ceremony
In the aftermath of a call by several social justice organizations for Office of LGBT Affairs director Nellie Fitzpatrick to resign over what they characterize as her office’s lack of credibility on racial and intersectionality issues, the Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) staged an unannounced protest last night during an event honoring her.
Just after 5:30 p.m., roughly 20 protesters from BBWC, ACT UP Philadelphia, and Black Lives Matter PA entered the Professional Women’s Roundtable (PoWeR) award ceremony at the Hard Rock Cafe in Center City, where Fitzpatrick was about to be honored as a “trailblazer” for her work as the mayor’s LGBT liaison.
During the confrontation, Fitzpatrick defended her stance on not stepping down and yelled to the crowd, “Can I talk, please? The record has got to get corrected … the record is number one when we are talking about intersectionality. I’d like to know where you all are when trans women of color are being murdered in our city?”
Protester Erica Mines responded that she was offended that Fitzpatrick “would question queer people of color about their compassion on intersectional issues … She’s disgusting for that — she’s never been out here in these streets speaking out for black and brown people dying. How dare she say something like that. That was the proverbial white comment made every time black and brown people talk about themselves and defending themselves under a system of white privilege.”
Mines then tried to hand Fitzpatrick a bouquet of black flowers, described as “anti-blackness flowers,” as police told protesters they had to leave the private event or would face arrest:
Outside the venue, more than a dozen police officers on bicycles surrounded its side entrance as protesters continued to speak about racial injustice and discrimination. While this was happening, Jane Shull, executive director of HIV/AIDS advocacy organization Philadelphia FIGHT, walked by and was approached by protesters.
In May, BBWC had given a list of demands to Shull after complaints of alleged racist polices and practices at the organization that they claimed targeted marginalized workers at Philadelphia FIGHT. BBWC leaders said they had never received a response from Schull and confronted her:
At 6:20 p.m., the protesters headed to ICandy, near 12th and Manning streets, and demonstrated inside for a short time:
By 7:30 p.m., the protest concluded near Woody’s, on 13th Street, where demonstrators referenced the venue’s alleged covert racist dress code policy. Bar staff shut the front glass doors of the bar to prohibit entry, while police guarded the sidewalks with their vehicles. Helicopters were heard around the area and police vehicles blocked exits in surrounding Gayborhood streets. The protest ended peacefully with no arrests made or citations issued.