Trans woman arrested at Philly Pride for allegedly attempting to set fire ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag

Allies of a transgender woman have spent the past 24 hours rallying for her release from police custody—some of the time she spent in a men’s prison—after she was arrested at the Philadelphia Pride parade on Sunday. Police arrested the woman after she attempted to set fire to a “thin blue line” flag, which signifies support for law enforcement, during the celebration.

Footage of the arrest taken by local station 6abc Action News shows that the woman, who has only been identified by her dead name, did not set fire to the flag, but does show police handcuffing her while she laid on the ground. Officers are then seen holding a grey American flag with a blue line painted through the center and several other items, including a canister of paint thinner.

The woman has reportedly been charged with attempting to commit arson, causing or risking a catastrophe, recklessly endangering another person, and related offenses, though the Philadelphia Department of Prisons and Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs did not confirm the charges with the Daily Dot. Sarah Reyes, deputy communications director with the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, told the Daily Dot that information about any charges will not be provided at this time.

The First Amendment protects the burning of the American flag as a form of symbolic speech.

Shortly after 5pm ET on Monday, Shawn Hawes, public information officer for the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, told the Daily Dot in an email that the woman’s bail had been paid and that her release has been processed.

News of the woman’s arrest was first brought to Twitter on Sunday after a user named Anna Moone stated that the woman was arrested for burning a “Blue Lives Matter” flag.

Moone went on to criticize cisgender gay attendees of the parade who were “out dancing with cops” while the woman remained in custody. Moone’s comment calling out the hypocrisy of the LGBTQ community for complying with the existence of police at an event historically rooted in an agenda against police brutality of queer and transgender people.

In the video of the woman’s arrest, the crowd can be heard clapping and cheering after she’s led out of the public area, though it’s unclear what they are clapping for. A woman interviewed in the video said the woman was about to burn the flag “in a crowded area, so the cops had to detain her… Yeah, it was some kind of protest, I don’t know what though.”

A woman beside the other woman interjects, saying she thinks it was a “Blue Lives Matter” flag, but the woman being interviewed continues, saying, “It’s not safe in this area anyways to do with all these people around. It’s not safe with all these people around, so.”

Moone continued to update Twitter throughout the following day with the whereabouts of the woman and the effort to release her.

According to Philly Socialists and local coalition Philly for Racial, Economic And Legal (REAL) Justice, the groups rallied at the Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters the evening after the woman’s arrest. Philly Socialists refrained from commenting to the Daily Dot about the woman’s arrest, stating they would release a statement after her release, and once she’s spoken to a lawyer, deferring to the group’s public Facebook posts for statements and updates.

The socialist group reported throughout the night and into Monday that the woman was scheduled to be arraigned at 1a.m. local time, but instead saw a judge around 4:30am, who had set her bail at $5,000, with 10 percent needed for her release. With the help of the promotion of the woman’s arrest on Twitter and Facebook, the groups were able to raise more than $2,500 through Venmo and PayPal to cover the woman’s bail, as well as any additional housing and court fees she may need once released. In the 20 hours since the group wrote about the woman’s arrest, the Insagram post has been shared more than 500 times.

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Please see last update! she has been released!!!! Thank you to all the people who have shown support and solidarity….

Posted by Philly Socialists on Sunday, June 10, 2018

A fluctuating group of 12 to 17 people took post at the police department throughout the night, rallying for the woman’s release while supporters brought goods to the jail support. Misty, a 44-year-old transgender woman who attended the demonstration, told the Daily Dot that she does not know the woman jailed but found out about the supporters from Moone’s tweets. She joined the group between 10:30pm to 3am, she said, and brought candles, turning the event into a “vigil” of sorts. While Misty posted photos of the vigil, she later protected her Twitter account.

The group’s later posts report that in the hours before noon, the woman had been transferred to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, a maximum security men’s prison.

“We just found out a couple of hours ago at this woman was transferred to a maximum security men’s prison which is exactly what we were trying to prevent with the phone call campaign, vigil, and fundraising,” Misty told the Daily Dot. “The absolute priority is for this woman’s safety and for her NOT to be where she is right now.”

By 5pm Monday, Philly Socialists reported that the woman had been posted bail, but was still being processed at the prison. The group redirected all support to the prison.

Across Twitter, supporters of the woman have shared Moone’s initial tweet with outrage that she’s been arrested for attempting to burn the flag.

Others, however, denounced the woman’s actions, alleging that the action could have been dangerous to others.

Philly Socialists have released the following statement regarding her arrest, writing that police have no place at Pride celebrations, and that they represent an “affront to LGBTQ people and people of color, many of whom have who have died at the hands of police.”

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Press contact: press@phillysocialists.orgOur statement regarding our comrade's arrest:On Sunday June 10, a comrade,…

Posted by Philly Socialists on Monday, June 11, 2018

Misty said that she hoped people would know that the arrested woman was expressing her First Amendment rights and that even if she had ultimately committed a crime, her punishment was “exceedingly disproportionate.” (Misty was not at the parade and did not claim to know what crimes were committed.)

“Especially heinous was the Philadelphia police’s decision to relocate her to a maximum-security men’s prison for several hours, after bail was posted on her behalf,” Misty said. “A men’s maximum-security prison full of rapists and murderers is no place for a young woman who made a political statement.”

Update 5:10pm CT, June 11: This article has been updated to include comments from the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs and Misty, who attended the Philadelphia demonstration.

Update 7:30pm CT, June 11: Philly Socialists have identified the woman who was arrested for attempting to burn a “thin blue line” flag at Philadelphia Pride as ReeAnna Segin.

The post Trans woman arrested at Philly Pride for allegedly attempting to set fire ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag appeared first on The Daily Dot.


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