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Speech Is Not Free at LGBT Freedom Day
Overzealous monitors and members of San Francisco's Finest shut down shut down distribution of a satirical product at the LGBT Freedom Day celebration.
2500 lucky festival-goers at today’s Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans Freedom Day celebration received samples of a hot new product from Estee Slaughter Inc. In the first appearance by the San Francisco-based cosmetics shrimp at the LGBTFD celebration (aka San Francisco Pride), volunteers distributed thousands of the “RealityfoldTM” sleep mask. The black mask, tastefully emblazoned in gold with the ES logo and “Make the Occupation Disappear,” bears this explanatory text on its flip side:
“Going to Jerusalem for World Pride?
Worried the sight of so many Walls and Checkpoints will keep you from getting your beauty rest?
Estee Slaughter’s Realityfolds will protect you from the harsh glow of Occupation so you can party in virtual peace.
Estee Lauder heir Ron Lauder, the president of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is a vocal supporter of illegal Zionist settlements on Palestinian land. The JNF was founded in 1901 to buy up Palestinian land for use by Jews only. Since 1948 it has partnered with the Israeli government to expel over 1,000,000 Palestinians from their land and deny the refugees their right to return.
World Pride will be held in Jerusalem in August 2006. 10 minutes away from the march site, Israeli bulldozers are demolishing Palestinian homes to expand the illegal settlement of Maaleh Adumim.”
Distributors, wearing the ES logo on newly minted t-shirts, had scarcely begun the giveaway when parade security monitors descended and told them they could not distribute the masks at the festival because they had not paid for a booth. The Slaughter reps responded that this was free speech activity and that they were not disrupting the event. Soon thereafter, the police arrived and said that they work for the parade committee, that the parade committee, by acquiring a permit for the event, had managed to make the entire ten-block area of the festival “private property” and the unauthorized distribution had to stop.
Policewomen told one member of the group that the problem was that rival company, Estee Lauder had a booth at the event and festival organizers were afraid the similarity in products would cause some confusion.
The group eventually agreed to leave, because police were threatening to confiscate the remaining masks (handmade in a very labor-intensive process). They attempted to locate someone in charge of deciding which queers can hand out what literature at the festival, but never could get to talk to anyone. They were repeatedly told to go to the “free speech area,” which they never were able to find.
“Do you think anyone at Stonewall paid for a permit?” one activist asked event staff.
Estee Slaughter is a division of Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) www.quitpalestine.org. QUIT! plans to challenge this ultraregulation of a community celebration in a variety of legal and grassroots ways.
Late arriving photo of police and event staff harassing us.