Jeff Consoletti, the event organizer of Christopher Street West/LA Pride’s upcoming Black Lives Matter Solidarity March, scheduled for June 14, 2020, has withdrawn his involvement with the event in light of recent controversies and criticisms following the announcement of the protest march. One of the main criticisms is coming from leaders of the Black community who say the event was planned using the Black Lives Matter name to request a permit for the march without the organization’s knowledge, invitation or consent.
“Earlier this week, Christopher Street West (CSW)/La Pride, a longstanding client, asked me to provide pro bono services to facilitate the standard safety and security protocols for a solidarity march.” Consoletti posted on his social media today. “CSW assured me that they had the support of the Black queer community for their event, but it has become clear that is not entirely the case. Effective immediately, I am withdrawing my involvement with CSW’s event.
I apologize and now see that these actions demonstrated the type of privileged, passive, and systemic issues that permeate society today. Our desire to stand with Black Lives Matter movement was not carefully thought thorough. I am appreciative of the education I am receiving on how to be better and can see now that it is not right to take up space or attention from the conversation of racial and the injustice Black people face from law enforcement. Thank you to the people who have taken the time to share their perspectives. I am humbled by the passionate feedback I have received, and I promise to listen, learn and lead as a better ally, friend supporter and human.”
An email sent Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Conseoletti proudly submitted a special event permit application on behalf of Christopher Street West/LA Pride to West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo, City officials, City staff and West Hollywood Sheriff’s Deputies. The permit request reads as follows:
“Dear Mr. Arevalo, Ms. Cook, Captain Ramirez, Sgt. Klaus, City Staff & Officers:
It is with great pride and greater humility I submit special event permit applications on behalf of Christopher Street West/LA PRIDE to host a peaceful, first amendment march and gathering on Sunday, June 14th beginning on Hollywood Blvd. at Highland Avenue and ending in West Hollywood at Santa Monica & San Vicente Blvds.
Fifty years ago, the founders of Christopher Street West worked alongside Los Angeles Police to organize the first permitted PRIDE Parade, in commemoration of the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, and to spread messages of tolerance, justice, acceptance and solidarity for the LGBTQIA+ community. Today, our community stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Justice for George Floyd to denounce racial prejudice and injustice, police brutality against communities of color, intolerance, and violence. We organize our community to come together peacefully, as we did 50 years ago, to show support for people of all races, genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, demanding voices are heard and empowered, and that we all can live together in justice, equality and in support of basic human rights for all.
The details of our gathering are enclosed, however, we will advocate and promote a safe, peaceful, and organized march. After a brief speaking program commencing at 10:00AM at Hollywood & Highland, we will lead participants west-bound along major roadways, entering the City of West Hollywood on Sunset to S/B Crescent Heights Blvds, to W/B Santa Monica Blvd and ending at Santa Monica & San Vicente Blvds. It is our intention to provide a safe, organized, and well-maintained platform for people to gather to be heard. We expect programming to be completed by 14:00 in West Hollywood. We have notified City of LA officials and LAPD concurrent with this message. For your reference, the LAPD SEP application is also attached.
For the past 50 years, we have demonstrated a strong and unified partnership with law enforcement in the annual organization of PRIDE, especially here in West Hollywood, home to LA PRIDE for over 25 years. While the COVID-19 pandemic has halted our traditional celebration, the national climate surrounding the George Floyd homicide is a call to action to motivate our community in solidarity with this movement. Your support of this peaceful gathering is the key to its success and continues a WEHO tradition of support, advocacy, and the peaceful right to protest for all.
I will await your reply and direction on any necessary next steps toward organizing this collaboratively.
Executive Producer / Event Organizer
on behalf of Christopher Street West Association Inc. / LA PRIDE”
Trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston went to her social media following the announcement on Wednesday, June 3, where she called out CSW/LA Pride for not trusting black leadership, following the community’s cues and undermining their work.
“Protests aren’t solely about bringing in bodies,” Preston wrote on her social media platform. “They’re about bringing a message. If there’s no clear message, there’s no clear path toward victory. Always make sure you can identify the messenger. This mitigates the possibility of infiltration and derailment of a movement. This statement isn’t to deter anyone from participation. It’s simply a disclaimer clarifying that myself nor Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles is responsible for any of the outcomes.👥🌈”
The post was followed by a video message, which was shared all over social media. The video message reads as follows:
“One of the key ingredients to becoming an effective ally to the black community is trusting black leadership and following our cues. At a time when passionate protestors are being lumped in with non-affiliated disruptors and bad faith actors; keeping our message clear and concise is of the utmost importance. I’ve been contacted by several community leaders and asked about Los Angeles Pride’s Black Lives Matter Solidarity March and specific black details on the event. While I’m sure this was organized with the best of intentions, myself, black leadership within Los Angeles, nor the Black Lives Matter movement organized this march, nor were we contacted about it. It’s important for non-black allies to understand that while you’re intentions may be pure, using a black organizations name without its permission or consent to collaborate, not only undermines the work, but it dilutes the message and weakens the overall impact. Black leadership knows exactly what it needs in order to thrive, so please don’t conflate saviourism with black solidarity. Ask us what we need–and we will tell you.”
CSW/LA Pride posted the following on their Facebook page in response to the criticism.
“We hear the many voices coming from within the Black community and our support for the community is unwavering. Christopher Street West (CSW) is engaging Black community advocacy groups, Black LGBTQ+ organizations and community leaders to align on our mission and objectives. We are committed to educating ourselves on how to be an ally in the fight against systemic social injustice and police brutality and to work for justice reform. We are here to listen and learn. More information will be shared tomorrow.
Gerald Garth, CSW Board Treasurer, Solidarity March Committee Co-Chair
Brandon Anthony, BASH LA, Founder/ CEO, Solidarity March Committee Coordinator and Member”
Council member Lauren Meister reminded the community that the CSW/LA Pride Solidarity March was not a City of West Hollywood Sponsored event. “To all who are emailing council members and city staff about CSW’s LA Pride protest march, please note, this is NOT a city-sponsored event,” she noted on her Facebook page. “The city cancelled in-person events through December 31, 2020 due to public health concerns related to COVID-19. This has not changed. Please email comments to email@example.com (and cc: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share with us). Thank you.”
Jeff Consoletti followed up with the West Hollywood City Manager, City Staff and City Officials with a brief message this afternoon, Friday, June 5, 2020.
“As FYI, I am stepping away from this event as CSW/LA PRIDE did not properly inform me or the community of their intentions.
I am unsure if they will continue with a march on June 14, but neither myself or JJLA will be involved.
Jeff Consoletti is Founder & Principal of JJ|LA, Jeff Consoletti, is an Executive Producer, Production Manager, Creative Director and Logistics Expert with over twelve years of experience leading special event production and design, festival, concert and show production and promotion, and innovative multi-platform campaigns, activations and promotions for a variety of entertainment, corporate and non-profit brands.
Christopher Street West/LA Pride promised a press release today in response to all the issues brought up by Black leadership, but it hasn’t done so yet as of the posting of this piece.