NEW YORK –
Thousands of marchers and a rainbow of floats filled the streets of New York and other U.S. cities on June 27 as people celebrated gay Pride, part of a weekend of events across the U.S. marred by a shooting death June 26 at a street party in San Francisco.
Participants in New York’s annual parade, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson, made their way down Fifth Avenue toward the Greenwich Village neighborhood. Throngs of people turned out despite the heat and humidity on Sunday to watch the city’s annual parade.
One of the parade’s grand marshals was Constance McMillen, the lesbian teenager who sued her Mississippi school district over its policy banning same-sex prom dates.
The other marshals are Lt. Dan Choi, who is facing discharge from the Army under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring gays from serving openly, and Judy Shepard, mother of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming college student who was murdered in 1998.
SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco’s 40th annual LGBT Pride weekend started June 26 at Civic Center Plaza, where thousands converged as vendors sold barbecue and burritos and DJs spun tunes on a large stage. The party later moved into the city’s Castro District for the “Pink Saturday” street party, where police said a 19-year-old man was killed and two others injured in a shooting late Saturday.
Stephen Powell died early Sunday, said James Fiorica, an investigator at the Medical Examiner’s Office. Powell was shot in the chest. A 19-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man were also shot, but are expected to survive.
A San Francisco man was arrested in connection with the fatal shooting, but was released on June 30. Authorities say the .357 revolver found on 20-year-old Ed Perkins was not the weapon used to kill Powell. Witnesses did not place Perkins at the scene of the shooting.
Perkins is now only facing charges of possessing a concealed weapon and possessing a loaded weapon. He was scheduled for arraignment the morning of July 7.
Police have said they believe Powell knew his shooter.
Thousands gathered to watch and participate in the city’s gay pride parade. The Backstreet Boys were due to perform and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is from San Francisco, was scheduled to deliver a videotaped address to revelers.
CHICAGO – Chicago’s parade included the first-ever float from the Cubs and an appearance by the Stanley Cup – NHL’s championship trophy.
The Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup title since 1961 this year, and the parade marks the first time the trophy has been on display at a gay-themed event, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Phil Pritchard.
“We are thrilled that it worked out as it’s important for the city and important for the franchise,” Blackhawks spokesman Adam Rogowin said.
MINNEAPOLIS – An official with the Twin Cities Pride Festival says organizers will continue trying to keep an evangelical Christian from Wisconsin out of the festival who was allowed to pass out Bibles at their June 26 Pride celebration.
On June 25, a federal judge ruled the festival couldn’t prevent Brian Johnson, of Hayward, Wisc., from passing out Bibles and discussing his views against homosexuality. The judge ruled that Loring Park is a public forum, so Johnson’s free-speech rights must be honored.
Johnson handed out Bibles Saturday, but Minneapolis Park Police say there were no major disturbances.
Pride organizer John Kelley told Minnesota Public Radio that most people ignored Johnson. But he says organizers will continue their legal fight to keep Johnson away from future festivals.