President Pelton released a statement on Wednesday, August 28. Read the most recent coverage here.
President M. Lee Pelton plans to release a statement in the following days ahead of the Boston Straight Pride Parade scheduled for Saturday, August 31 that first caused controversy in Boston earlier this summer.
The parade, which aims to spread awareness of alleged issues impacting straight people, will pass the college’s Boylston Street buildings during on-campus move in for Emerson students. The march follows a far-right rally in Portland where Antifa protestors clashed with far-right demonstrators, shutting down much of the city.
The President wrote in a statement to The Beacon after the publication of the article that he first learned of the event on Tuesday.
Conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a former editor for Breitbart who is gay, is set to be the grand marshal of the parade, according to the group’s website. The Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, deemed so by the Southern Poverty Law Center, will also attend the parade.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a June statement that the Boston Police Department had not yet given the organizers the necessary permits to hold the parade. The Mayor’s press office could not be reached for comment on the status of the permits.
The parade date falls on the same day some students are scheduled to move into their dorms. Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Jim Hoppe said his office has been in touch with anyone scheduled for an early move-in to potentially change their time.
“The sense is that after two o’clock there shouldn’t be any more traffic in front of the campus,” Hoppe said in a phone interview.
ECPD Chief Robert Smith said in an email statement that ECPD will treat the parade, which has not yet secured a police permit, the same way they would a large event.
“As with all the other major events that the ECPD regularly deals with, we will liaison with Boston Police District A-1 to determine the parade route, expected number of attendees, including expected protests, and what resources Boston Police will be providing,” Smith said.
Following the return of conservative groups to campus in the 2018
–19 academic year, leaders of Emerson’s Turning Point USA and Emerson College Republicans chapters denounced the parade. Camilo Vilaplana, president of the Emerson chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit organization, said that his group was contacted about participating in the parade but declined.
“There is no need for a straight pride parade, and the only reason for organizing one is obviously more of a mean-spirited reaction to the Pride parade than any kind of genuine political activity,” he said. “We as a group do not support acts of provocation.”
Despite the right-wing origins of the parade, Vilaplana said he isn’t worried about violence taking place.
“The people organizing this are misled but are ultimately harmless trolls looking to air out their personal misconceptions and generate attention for themselves,” he said. “I do not see any type of violence coming from it.”
Turning Point USA chapters around the nation have invited Yiannopoulos to speak at college campuses, but Vilaplana does not support him being the grand marshal of the parade.
“Milo is a provocateur who prefers getting attention via controversy than being involved in genuine discourse,” he said. “Him being the grand marshal just shows who these people got these ideas from and how misled they are.”
Allison Payne, head of the Emerson College Republicans, said in a phone interview that she’s not surprised the parade is happening.
“It’s almost not surprising that something like this would happen [in Boston], just given how politically polarized Boston itself is,” she said.
Payne said the grand marshal choice speaks to the organizers’ motives.
“I think people like [Milo] are very dangerous for our political climate, and I think the fact that he’s running it shows what the event really means and what the goal of it is,” Payne said.
One parade organizer, Mark Sahady, is involved with the group Resist Marxism, a far-right group which has held free-speech rallies in Boston, protested a transgender rights rally in November 2018, and protested the Women’s March in January 2019.
Walsh said in June that the city could not deny the group a permit based on their beliefs.
“Permits to host a public event are granted based on operational feasibility, not based on values or endorsements of belief,” the mayor said in June.
The group originally planned to display a “Straight Pride Flag” on the flag poles outside of City Hall after the parade, but the city denied their request.
“The City maintains that its flag poles are a forum for government speech,” Walsh’s press office said in an email to the Beacon. “As such, the City maintains selectivity and control over the messages conveyed by the flags flown on our flag poles, and has chosen not to display the ‘Straight Pride’ flag.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Update 8/23: The story has been updated to include information regarding when President M. Lee Pelton first learned of the parade.
Clarification 8/23: The article has been amended to omit the phrase “after months of silence” in the first paragraph. In its place, the phrase “that first caused controversy in Boston earlier this summer” has been added.