According to the Windy City Times, an LGTBQ newspaper, several people were asked to leave the 1,500-person march on Saturday because their flags “made people feel unsafe” by resembling the Israeli flag and appearing to support Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
All of the people asked to leave said they had been approached or harassed several times throughout the march. A Dyke March member told the publication that they were all asked to leave because the march was anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian.
“They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive,” Laurel Grauer, a marcher who said she was harassed countless times because of the flag, told the Windy City Times. “Prior to this [march] I had never been harassed or asked to leave and I had always carried the flag with me.”
Another person who was asked to leave, Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, said she felt the Dyke March was supposed to be intersectional but that she didn’t feel welcome.
According to the newspaper, some social media users supported the march’s denouncement of the flag, which they saw as a form of “pink washing,” a term used to express that Israel’s support for the LGBTQ community is used to detract from the oppression of the Palestinian people. They also alleged American Pride flags, seen as another sign of oppression, were also removed from the march.
However, others found the ban to have been anti-Semitic more than anti-Israel and took issue with the march’s actions.
Chicago Dyke March controversy over a flag we have used for years to affirm queer Jewish presence and pride. https://t.co/aGVcI69B8a
— Keshet (@KeshetGLBTJews) June 25, 2017
— Erin Schrode (@ErinSchrode) June 25, 2017
To be very clear: a person who is "triggered" or made to feel "unsafe" by a Jewish symbol is an antisemite. https://t.co/pwCtG8pzCe
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) June 25, 2017
“People asked me if I was a Zionist and I said, ‘Yes, I do care about the state of Israel but I also believe in a two-state solution and an independent Palestine,'” Grauer said. “It’s hard to swallow the idea of inclusion when you are excluding people from that. People are saying, ‘You can be gay but not in this way.’ We do not feel welcomed. We do not feel included.”
According to Facebook users posting on the march’s event page, Dyke March Chicago still hasn’t responded to criticism for asking people with Jewish Pride flags to leave. Posters allege Dyke March has gone so far as to block critics and remove critical messages on its event page.
However, shortly after 9:30am local time on Sunday, Dyke March Chicago posted a statement on the event page thanking the community and its partners for a successful march, with one portion of the statement possibly alluding to the events of the day.
“Thank you to everyone who fought and resisted alongside us during some of the most stressful moments of the day and who tried their hardest to guarantee everyone’s safety. We appreciate y’all so much,” the post read.