Pride Festival organizer resigns after delay in Stonewall’s response to arrests


The Pride Festival coordinator has resigned after she said she was upset with how Stonewall Columbus handled their response to the parade arrests on June 17.

In a social media post on the morning of June 23 Lori Gum said, “The inability of the executive director and SWC board to issue in six days an impactful and meaningful statement regarding the parade incident is unacceptable -- and frankly, stunning.”

Gum also resigned from her position as the program coordinator at Stonewall Columbus.

Columbus police arrested four people after several groups tried to block the parade. The four people wanted a seven minute break and moment of silence in honor of Philando Castile during the parade.

A Minnesota officer was acquitted of manslaughter in the shooting and killing of Castile in July 2016 in St. Paul.

Dr. Tom McCartney, the chair of the Stonewall Columbus Board of Trustees, issued this statement on the afternoon of June 23:

Stonewall Columbus has stood for equality, acceptance and basic human rights for the LGBTQ community since 1981. We treasure our rich legacy, unwavering commitment to equality and the reality that today Columbus is recognized as one of the most LGBTQ friendly cities in the nation.

All members of our Board were and are deeply concerned by the arrests and charges filed against protestors at this year’s Pride parade. We take very seriously allegations that anyone has suffered an injustice because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or race. As an inclusive organization enriched by the diversity of those we represent, we know that all of us are diminished when one of us is excluded.

We have requested a formal review by the Columbus Police and the Franklin County Sheriff about what occurred during the protests, subsequent arrests and detention. We are and will simultaneously initiate conversations with community partners, Columbus Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff.

We also are aware that our LGBTQ community needs to recognize and address injustices, such as racism, transphobia and classism. We heard this demand and Now is the time for constructive dialogue that results in real change. Last Saturday, those who marched in Pride were gay, straight, Trans, cisgender, people of color, refugees, immigrants, and people of all faiths, ages, professions, families and children.

Members of our Board are initiating honest, respectful conversations with people throughout the community. Expect to hear concrete ideas resulting from these conversations as we move forward.

Finally, we also want to honor and thank the entire staff of Stonewall Columbus for the great work they do everyday and most especially during Pride Weekend. They are truly devoted and selfless advocates for the people we serve.

Together, we will secure equality for everyone.

Gum told 10TV she thinks the statement from Stonewall Columbus is "too little, too late.”

Melinda Swan is working with the board at Stonewall Columbus on addressing these arrests. When asked about the delay in issuing a response, Swan told 10TV everyone should always wait until they have all the facts in situations like what happened with the arrests. She also said the groups did not ask permission before protesting at the parade, but said an agreement may have been reached had they done so. Gum told 10TV she did not disagree with the protests, but said the community has to find a different way to deal with protests. Gum worked as the Pride event coordinator for seven years and as the program coordinator at Stonewall Columbus for six years. Gum said there are many volunteers who helped make the Pride festival happen and the event would not have happened without them.

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