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Pride celebration canceled: Event planned for last weekend nixed for safety reasons

A pride celebration planned for last Saturday was canceled by organizers out of what Nevada City Councilwoman — and co-organizer — Daniela Fernandez said was an abundance of caution.

“This was not a city event, although the space was approved by the city. This was a small group of community organizers, LGBTQ+ and allies, and a small group of advisors,” Fernandez said.

“With the rising number of attacks on pride events across the nation, it became clear we couldn’t ensure the safety of participants, particularly with a street event with no entry, no exit, where anyone can come and go,” she added.



The event was to have taken place on the newly renovated Commercial Street promenade.

She cited many events throughout the country that have found members of the LGBTQ+ community vulnerable to those who disagreed — and in some cases inflicted violence — targeting those celebrating pride openly.



“The rise of those events (was the cause of the cancellation) but also with the police dispatch, Chamber of Commerce, and council members experiencing a variety of negative views ranging from concern to aggressive displays of homophobia,” Fernandez added.

Additionally, she stated that the LGBTQ+ community has a history of not feeling protected by law enforcement during such events.

“Historically, across the nation and in Nevada City, the LGBTQ+ community has a strained relationship with law enforcement,” Fernandez said. “In addition to the first pride being an outgrowth of a violent display of police brutality against LGBTQ+ people at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, many LGBTQ+ youth and adults were present at the violent August 9, 2020, protest in Nevada City and feel that law enforcement did not do enough to protect them.

“We have much work to do to repair those relationships. There is still an opening for repair,” she added.

An after-action report states no police officer violated any rule or law during the Aug. 9 Nevada City protest that turned violent.

Instead the officers “were insufficiently trained and equipped to handle the protest,” according to the report.

INSURANCE

Stuart Baker, executive director of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, said that the celebration had to be canceled due to insurance reasons, though Fernandez said organizers had insurance lined up and were just concerned about the safety of everyone involved.

“The location was looking at a trip-and-fall situation,” Baker said. “The event wouldn’t be chamber sponsored.”

Baker added that there has been pushback regarding Nevada City’s decision to display rainbow-colored pride flags in the downtown area, and the chamber has heard from both sides.

“We do hear a lot of pros and cons and people had a lot of opinions,” he said. “We are trying to get people to direct any response to city and council members. It’s really them. We just pass the information on.

“As long as it remains peaceful and not vandalism, that’s fine,” he added. “It’s all about freedom of speech.”

Fernandez said that although organizers were on the receiving end of some negativity in their efforts to put on the celebration, she has also experienced an outpouring of support from the community.

“For every email I have received that has been negative, I have received four emails or calls with gratitude and thanks for the flags, particularly from LGBTQ+ youth,” she said. “They have said, ‘I feel so seen by my town. This means so much to me.’”

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com


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