Trans woman arrested at Philly Pride demands no cops at future parades

Activists demand end to police presence after trans woman put in men's prison cell

June 20, 2018 - 6:56 pm
ReeAnna Segin

Cherri Gregg | KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The transgender woman arrested for burning a flag during the Philadelphia Pride Parade last week spoke out Wednesday at a protest outside City Hall. 

She claims her treatment by police and prison officials was inhumane. Activists say they do not want any police at the parade in the future.

"We cannot rely on police for help," said ReeAnna Segin as she stood next to a couple dozen protesters, some holding signs at the rally that read "No Cops at Pride," demanding an end to police presence at the annual parade. "We can protect ourselves from police and violent organizations on our own."

Segin gave a speech outlining the history of Pride, noting that it was created out of protest and the mistreatment of the LGBT community by police. Nearly 50 years later, she said things have not changed.

"We can protect ourselves from police and violent organizations on our own," she said. "We need to create a world where our trans family is safe."

Trans woman arrested during #PrideParade spoke out. @phillysocialists and supporters no longer want police at pride. They say police and #LGBT people have been at odds for years and they can protect themselves. Supporters want #Pride to return to radical roots of protest instead of “rainbow” celebrations. what do you think?? @kywradio

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Segin, who is a trans woman, was arrested June 10 at the parade. Police said she was using a flammable substance to light a "Blue Lives Matter" flag, which Segin said was to protest police  oppression of black, brown and queer people.  

Police arrested Segin and transported, processed and detained in a private cell. Eventually, she was taken to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Segin and her supporters say she was made to feel inhuman.

"She was handled roughly by police and most importantly she was put in a men's prison even though she was a woman," said Philly Socialists organizer Enav Emmanuel. "She shouldn't have been arrested in the first place."

Philadelphia Department of Prisons' transgender policy requires prison officials to refer to trans individuals by their preferred gender, place pre-op trans individuals in private cells, if possible, and use gender preference for the officer who conducts any searches.

Prison Commissioner Blanche Carney said her department conducted a thorough investigation by reviewing all video of Segin while in custody and interviewing all staff that came in contact with her. She said their policy was followed.

"We want to get the correct information out there," Carney said. "Transgender folks are not new to us."

She said Segin was housed in a cell with four other male "new admits" for approximately 40 minutes, at which time Segin alerted officials that she was transgender. Carney said Segin was within the sight of a corrections officer the entire time she was in the male cell.

"When staff determined that she was transgender she was separated out, access still to privacy with staff and released out within six-and-a-half hours," she noted. "We have a zero-tolerance [policy> that anyone would be mistreated because of their sexuality or identity."

Carney said the department asks a series of questions and must do their own independent probe separate from police. She encourages trans individuals to disclose that information so that officers can treat them accordingly.

"It's unfortunate that the young lady had that experience," she added, "because we are in the people business and we want to treat people individually."

Carney added that the prison ordered hormone medication for Segin during her stay, although the medicine was not administered to her. 

As for presence of police at the Pride Parade, Pride organizer Franni Price responded that "unfortunately, we need police to keep us and the city's historic property safe during the parade."

Price said the parade passes by the Liberty Bell and given the route, a police presence would be needed. 

"We earned the right to celebrate while being protected," Price said. "We are targeted so many times and people ask me will they be safe."