On Friday night, protestors at Creating Change — an annual, national conference on LGBT equality — took the halls of the Chicago Hilton to demonstrate against A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israeli group accused of “pinkwashing” (that is, using Israel’s LGBT rights record to distract from its human rights abuses). Speakers at the conference’s opening plenary session spoke against such abuses.
The protestors organized using a Facebook event page entitled “#CancelPinkwashing: No Room For Pinkwashing at Creating Change”, created signs and followed a drumbeat march — chanting slogans like “No justice, no peace!”, “From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free!”, and “Back up, back up! We want freedom, freedom! Zionists, zionists, we don’t need ’em, need ’em!” — through the hotel lobby, up to the second and then third floors where the congregated outside of the reception for A Wider Bridge.
Roughly 250 protestors crowded the hallways as organizers with A Wider Bridge blocked entry into their reception. Attendees hoping to attend the reception made their way through the crowd. One man heading into the reception got into a scuffle with a female-bodied protestor; police later escorted the man away from the third floor amid shouts of “Bye-bye, racist.”
According to attendees, the Chicago Hilton soon called the police who arrived with six vehicles including a police van in anticipation of multiple arrests. The protest leaders encouraged people unwilling to risk arrest or triggered by police presence to hide inside of other reception rooms on the third floor including a nearby reception hosted by the Latino Institute. One woman tearfully rushed through the crowd, crying and beginning to hyperventilate until she ducked into the Latino reception; others left the floor en masse with protestors parting to provide a clear way out.
Three protestors made it into A Wider Bridge’s reception and were reportedly ignored while standing in the back of the room. Meanwhile,hotel security arrived accompanied with about six police officers and told the protestors to disperse or else risk arrest. The protest ended soon after.
You can watch our exclusive video of the protest below: