Protesters burn the American flag during a "Defund the Police" march, Monday June 29. in Carbondale ILL. (Staff Photographer: Ana Luiza Jacome | @aluizaphotography )
Protesters burn the American flag during a "Defund the Police" march, Monday June 29. in Carbondale ILL.

Staff Photographer: Ana Luiza Jacome | @aluizaphotography

Demonstrators hold ‘Defund the Police’ march in Carbondale

Demonstrators gathered at the Town Square Pavilion in Carbondale Monday evening to protest an altercation that occurred between protesters and Carbondale Police Sunday evening. 

June 30, 2020

Demonstrators gathered at the Town Square Pavilion in Carbondale Monday evening to protest an altercation that occurred between protesters and Carbondale Police Sunday evening. 

Video footage from witnesses shows Carbondale Police pepper spraying protesters at Sunday’s “Queer Wrath March.” The altercation occurred at a grass field across from the Italian Village.

(See more: Video shows Carbondale Police spraying protesters.) 

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Cat Bruefach, a transgender woman, was arrested during the encounter and was identified by their deadname in a police press release.

Carbondale Police released a statement regarding the incident and said they were arresting Bruefach, 20 years old of North Carolina, for vandalism after a witness claimed she spray painted private property.

The release said Bruefach resisted officers and while that was occurring, three people who were a part of a larger group approached the officers during the arrest.

“One officer deployed pepper spray in the direction of the three people after they refused to comply with the officer’s verbal directions to retreat,” The release said. “One of the members of the larger group subsequently struck a police vehicle containing the person arrested with a flag pole.”

During Monday’s demonstration, protesters gathered at the pavilion for speeches by local activists, before heading to the spot where the altercation took place.

Clare Killman, a local activist, spoke of her experiences in Carbondale as a trans woman and read a statement she wrote in solidarity with Bruefach.

“Yesterday, [the] Carbondale Police Department treated its own residents worse than enemy combatants,” Killman said. “This struggle is one the queer community knows all too well, with the memories of how our movements were birthed into this world long distant, our people have been pacified and our culture of resistance stolen.” 

Killman said being a transgender woman is not an easy life to live. 

“Making the decision to transition is asking for a life fraught with danger and pain,” Killman said. “Some of that pain might be physical, like the police brutality our sister Cat endured by CPD. But all too often, a deeper pain lurks beyond that. Cat’s identity, which all transgender women have to fight tooth and nail to maintain socially, was revoked from her by the Carbondale Police Department.”

Killman went on to discuss how Bruefach’s deadname and incorrect pronouns were sent out in a press release about the altercation and arrest and said this led to the humiliation and public shaming of Bruefach.

“Cat didn’t deserve to face police brutality. Cat deserved to be handled with care and respect,” Killman said. “Cat didn’t deserve to be publicly shamed, humiliated, and stripped of her identity for being transgender and happening to exist in Southern Illinois. Cat deserved our compassion and our understanding and to have her closely held identity retained.”

After marching to the location where Bruefach was arrested, the demonstrators continued on to the police station where they rallied with chants and a few short speeches, before burning the American flag.

 The protesters then briefly blocked the intersection of W. Walnut St. and US-51 on the strip before dispersing.

News Editor Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

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