SlutWalk Chicago backtracks, will allow Zionist symbols at event

Organizers of event had previously said they would bar participants from carrying ‘nationalist’ displays

Participants in the San Francisco Pride Parade showing their Jewish and Israeli pride, June 30, 2014. (Wikimedia Commons/via JTA)
Participants in the San Francisco Pride Parade showing their Jewish and Israeli pride, June 30, 2014. (Wikimedia Commons/via JTA)

The organizers of Chicago’s annual SlutWalk announced that Zionist symbols would be allowed at the August 12 event, overturning an earlier decision which barred participants from carrying any such religious signs.

Speaking to Haaretz, one of the event’s organizers, Red, said the event would be open to anyone wishing to protest rape culture, including those who would choose to display Zionist or Jewish symbols. The organizer added that he believed SlutWalk Chicago should apologize to Jews for the previous ruling.

“We are not banning any symbols or any kind of ethnic or heritage flags,” Red told Haaretz. “Those are welcome, everyone is welcome to express themselves as they see fit at SlutWalk. And we encourage people to bring signs and symbols that represent fighting sexism, patriarchy, rape culture, and that takes a lot of different forms for different people, and we support them in how they decide to show up for SlutWalk.”

SlutWalk Chicago had originally banned Zionist symbols in a statement July 16, less than a month after the organizers of a separate parade in the city celebrating the lesbian community banned three Jewish women carrying Jewish Pride flags.

“We still stand behind @DykeMarchChi’s decision to remove the Zionist contingent from their event, [and] we won’t allow Zionist displays at ours,” read the official statement on Twitter,” SlutWalk Chicago said in the statement, adding that “all participants will be well protected, so [people] making Zionist or any other similarly nationalist, imperialist displays will be ejected [from the event].”

According to Haaretz, SlutWalk later reached out to members of Chicago’s Jewish and Muslim communities to explain that the event would be inclusive to all participants.

“As a feminist person myself, I feel very strongly about Palestinian liberation and radical Jewish resistance,” Red told Haaretz. “I care very deeply about those concerns, but I do think that at SlutWalk Chicago we have some apologizing to do around the confusion with some of our tweets.”

SlutWalk is an event held in multiple cities around the world aimed at drawing attention to women’s rights and widespread sexual harassment.

On June 24, organizers of the 21st annual Chicago Dyke March told the women that the rainbow flags with a white Star of David in the center would be a trigger to people who found it offensive.

A Dyke March collective member told the Windy City Times that the women were told to leave because the flags “made people feel unsafe,” and that the march was “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian.”

More than 1,500 LGBTQ individuals and their supporters participated in the march.

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