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October 14

Pikeville, KY: Antifascists Mobilize to Protect Pride in face of neo-Nazi Threats

Report back from antifascist mobilization in Pikeville, Kentucky in the wake of threats from neo-Nazi and Christian supremacist organizations.

Just 2 years after white supremacists rallied in Pikeville, Kentucky, the city held its 2nd Annual Pride Festival. No formal announcement was made, but after Legion of Saint Ambrose (LoSA) and other Christian supremacists threatened, stalked, and physically assaulted adults and children at Somerset Pride earlier this month, similar threats were expected at this event as well. A small area within the 1-block park to corral protesters was roped off if they showed; a pen within spitting distance of event seating and public walkways that would have done nothing to keep people safe. Antifascists from multiple states provided security for the event, ready to shut down any verbal or physical attacks. Not one hate preacher or fascist showed up.

Instead, what happened was Pride as it should be: a corporate-free, accessible, family-friendly, inclusive celebration where folks of all genders and sexualities could safely spend the day without the obligation to spend money or defend their existence to those who work to harm them. The day kicked off with a more powerful message than is often seen in the larger, more established Pride events: indigenous leadership speaking about the history of the land and the culture, and a welcome reminder that “love is indigenous” and hatred is not and never was welcome here.

The ease of this day and the ability of those at the festival to enjoy it without fear is a victory for all of us …

When we returned home, though, we were saddened to hear that a comrade, Sean Kealiher, was lost in Portland last night. Few details have been released in the news but it appears they were intentionally hit with a vehicle and killed. The full story isn’t ours to share if we could, and hopefully we will learn more from those who survived the events when they’re ready. But Portland and Sean are on our minds and we hold both a victory and a loss in our hearts simultaneously.

Rest in power, Sean!

From the holler to Portland, till the end, we go where they go and we intend to win.

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