Police chanted down after telling activist to stop carrying ‘offensive’ sign at Trans Pride Manchester

Pro-trans activists march side by side holding up signs of solidarity.

Police officers were reportedly chanted down by activists at a Trans Pride event in Manchester after they attempted to remove an activist’s sign during the march.

A British-Pakistani trans rights activist told PinkNews that they were confronted by Greater Manchester Police officers during the tail end of the Trans Pride Manchester march on Saturday (12 August).

They had held up a sign reading: “P*kis at Pride hate police,” while marching through Stevenson Square in Manchester‘s Northern Quarter when officers approached them.

In the UK, the term ‘P*ki’ has been used as a racist slur against people of South Asian heritage from the 1960s onwards, fuelled by anti-immigration, anti-Pakistani and, later, Islamophobic rhetoric from the media and politicians. However, in recent years, some young British-Pakistanis and British South Asians have sought to reclaim the word, leading to parallels being drawn between how the LGBTQ+ community has embraced and reclaimed the term ‘queer’.

“The police came over to let me know that my sign had been ‘caught on CCTV’ and that it could be deemed offensive by members of the public, and ‘advised’ I put it down,” the activist, who chose not to be named, alleged.

“I asked them if it was illegal and they stayed quiet, so I let them know that I would continue to carry the sign,” they said. “Then the crowd chanted them away from me.”

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Video recorded by PinkNews reporters shows a wave of activists chanting “no cops at Pride” as the police officers can be seen talking to the individual and then walking away.

According to attendees at the march, officers walked away after a member of the Trans Pride security team hired by The Proud Place – an LGBTQ+ community organisation in Manchester – spoke to them following a conversation between the officers and the protestor.

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A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police told PinkNews: “Greater Manchester Police were in attendance at Manchester Trans Pride [Saturday (12 August)] and continue to work closely with Pride organisers to ensure everyone can enjoy events safely.

“Events such as these are an opportunity to engage with the public and demonstrate our commitment to supporting to those in the LGBTQ+ community. We will continue to support Pride events throughout the summer.”

In response to the statement by Greater Manchester Police, Trans Pride Manchester organisers sent the following comment to PinkNews for inclusion: “Greater Manchester Police have not communicated with us either at or following the event. Their press statement that they ‘continue to work closely with Pride organisers’ is disingenuous.

“The Trans Pride Manchester organisers’ interactions with the police have intentionally been limited to those need to fulfil legal obligations for a march involving road closures.

“We are very conscious of the history of police oppression of trans people and other marginalised communities. The organisers stand with the attendees who chanted ‘No cops at Pride’.”

Other signs held by activists included “no Pride in Police” and another that read: “Trans rage or trans joy? We will always exist. Trans people are people. Stop killing us. Protect trans kids.”

An estimated 700 people attended the protest march at its peak on Saturday (12 August), which began at The Proud Trust at 13:00 and lasted until 14:00.

The incident, which prompted the crowd to continue chanting messages of solidarity, reportedly took place at approximately 14:05, five minutes after the march had officially ended.

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The itinerary for the event also noted an event at the Feel Good Club near Stevenson Square, which involved a merchandise giveaway, panel events and open mic performances.

“We are proud to not be a pinkwashing, corporate Pride,” the event’s description reads. “Whilst we do accept corporate sponsorships/donations, this will be from queer and trans-focused companies.

“We believe that Pride is a protest, not a party. Although Pride is also a space for celebration and to fight for our rights.”

Among the messages at the event was a banner reading “Free Sarah Jane Baker” in reference to the trans activist who was jailed after breaching her parole for a trans rights speech she made during London Trans+ Pride.

Baker was recalled to prison after being charged on suspicion of incitement to violence for a speech she made at the London Pride event on 8 July 2023.

During the speech, she said to the thousands of attendees: “If you see a TERF, punch them in the f**king face.”

She is currently being held at a male prison, the Ministry of Justice told PinkNews. She has never served any jail time in a women’s facility.

Baker was released on parole in 2019 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for kidnapping and torturing her stepmother’s brother in the late 1980s and later attempting to murder a child rapist while in prison.

Due to the terms of her probation, she is to serve the remainder of a life sentence pending the result of the criminal case concerning her Trans+ Pride speech, which is set to begin on 31 August.

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