Parade marchers prepare to roll out from C Street.
Humboldt Pride got underway in Halvorsen Park this morning but a shadow of violence hung over the event.
“Our hearts are heavy after hearing of the violent acts against members of our community,” a post on the Humboldt Pride Facebook page read. “In light of tehse events, we have increased security at (today’s) parade and festival.”
Yesterday morning, someone with a BB gun took aim at two homes associated with active members of the LGBTQ community, shooting out at least two windows, according to Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills. No injuries were reported and EPD isn’t treating the shootings as hate crimes at this point, Mills said, despite the fact that it’s Pride weekend locally.
Part of the reason for that, apparently, is that there’s growing speculation the shootings came as part of an escalating feud within Humboldt Pride and the local LGBTQ community.
Discontent had already been brewing when an anonymous open letter signed “32 Queers” arrived in the email inboxes and Facebook feeds of community members and media outlets on Aug. 21. The letter expressed frustration with the current Humboldt Pride board of directors and claimed its members had excluded and ignored input from the community, particularly those who are transgender, disabled, people of color, under 21 and sober.
A sprayed and graffitied Humboldt Pride poster in Old Town.
In response, and amid a flurry of online speculation and vandalized posters advertising today’s event, Humboldt Pride and other community members have organized a moderated open forum for Sept. 23 in Humboldt State University's Great Hall to discuss grievances and potential solutions.
However, more defaced posters have appeared around Eureka, and Arcata Main Street's storage unit, which it shares with Humboldt Pride, was damaged by vandals, its locks and moving parts glued shut. Then, the BB shootings yesterday further heightened already existing tensions.
According to a post on the Humboldt Pride Facebook page, Friday’s shootings targeted someone suspected of being a Pride “dissenter.”
At the foot of C Street, where the crowd of Pride paraders gathered this morning, the disappointment over yesterday’s violence was evident.
“Our hearts are broken that anybody was targeted and we’re doing everything possible to make this a safe and supportive space,” said Fuscia Rae, a Humboldt Pride board member. “The queer community constantly deals with the threat of violence; to have to deal with that the day before Pride ... It's just a really, really, really interesting coincidence.”
Others lamented reports that this was an act of LGBTQ-on-LGBTQ violence.
“We end up taking our safe spaces away from each other,” said Anita Lemonparty. “That it’s coincidental, I don’t even entertain that notion.”
Mills said that while the shootings occurred yesterday morning, they weren’t reported to EPD until last night. He said there are currently no suspects and the investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, Mills said the parade "went well."
As the parade neared this morning, some took the opportunity to call for unity. “If we don’t support each other, nobody else will,” said drag performer Nova Six.