Transgender rights the focus of St. Louis LGBT rally; 2 charged
Updated, 2:15 p.m. Feb. 27 — Three people were arrested toward the end of Saturday’s LGBTQ rally in downtown St. Louis, according to the city police department and event organizer Keith Rose.
Two of them, 21-year-old Edward Pingleton and 19-year-old Aideen O'Brien, face misdemeanor charges. O'Brien is accused of jumping on the back of an officer who was trying to arrest another protester, and Pingleton allegedly attempted to punch an officer. Neither had attorneys listed in court records. They're next due in court April 5th.
A third person was arrested, issued city summonses for "Interfering with a Police Officer" and "Resisting Arrest" and released.
Video allegedly showing the arrests were posted on a couple of social media sites. They show the crowd walking toward and chanting at officers on bicycles. At least one person ends up on the ground and is restrained by officers as people in the crowd pull on her. The crowd soon begins chanting “Who do you serve, who do you protect.” The video that had been on Facebook was no longer posted Sunday morning.
Rose also said one of the transgender women got a “bloody lip” during the arrests. Alderman and Democratic mayoral candidate Antonio French posted Saturday night on Twitter that he was “disturbed by reports of how LGBTQ protesters were treated” and will be “seeking answers” from the city police chief.
Original story from Feb. 25:
The so-called “bathroom bill” in front of Missouri lawmakers and changes to federal transgender guidelines were unavoidable topics for attendees of Saturday’s LGBT rally in St. Louis.
Hundreds came to Union Station on a chilly but sunny afternoon, some with signs against the GOP-backed bill that would restrict transgender students in K-12 public schools to using a facility that aligns with their sex at birth, not one they identify with now.
“Whether or not this bill was being considered in our Legislature, LGBT rights in Missouri are under attack,” said event co-organizer Aaron Laxton, of St. Louis.
Though the march had been planned weeks before Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing, the proposed law was at the front of many attendees’ minds.
“Hopefully it dies in committee and doesn’t move any farther,” Laxton said, adding that transgender people are just the latest minority group targeted by conservative lawmakers.
Missouri’s bill differs from a law in North Carolina and a measure that Texas lawmakers are considering because it focuses only on K-12 public schools, not all public spaces.
Bill sponsor Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, says it would protect the privacy of transgender students and offer school districts better guidelines on accommodating transgender students.
But Clayton Darnell, 23, of St. Louis, is worried about the safety of transgender students.
“Because I know so many people who fall outside the spectrum and need somewhere to go to the bathroom,” he said. “And if they go to the men's bathroom, they're going to either get verbally or physically attacked.”
It’s unclear whether Emery’s bill will move forward. The Associated Press reported that Missouri’s Republican House and Senate leaders said Thursday that individual school districts should decide how to handle transgender students’ use of bathrooms and locker rooms.
At the federal level, the Justice and Education departments on Wednesday rescinded the Obama administration’s guidelines regarding equal treatment of transgender students, returning that interpretation back to the states.
“These bills were never meant to make anyone safe,” transgender activist Amy Jade told the crowd. “It’s all about trying to hide us, to keep us tucked away. And you know what? I’m … done with being tucked.”
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney.