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St. Patrick’s Peace Parade welcomes GLBT group, Occupy Boston

Alternative parade celebrates equality, peace and justice.

Calling the ousting of their organization "bigoted" and "disheartening," veterans denied permission to march in the traditional St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston banned together Sunday in their own show of celebration for the second year in a row.

Members of Veterans For Peace, who were deemed "too political" to appear in the traditional gathering, led a second parade through the streets with hundreds of supporters in tow to promote peace and equality.

The veterans marched in the St. Patrick's Peace Parade alongside people from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community for the second annual parade. Multiple groups were denied access to the main celebration.

"It's crazy to me," said Warren Knowles, a member of the gay community who said he is also serving in the Navy. "I just want everyone to be able to march together."

Supporters held signs with slogans like "Keep the Gae in Gaelic" and "Bigotry is not a Southie Value," as passersby stopped and were shocked to learn the group was outcast.

"That's f--d up," said Kyle Whittaker, 19. "It's a parade. It's St. Patrick's Day. Everyone should be able to march together."

Not everyone along the parade route agreed.

"This must be the freak section," said a man as he walked by the Peace Parade members. The man refused to give his name when asked by a reporter.

Members of Occupy Boston also joined the march after Veterans For Peace stood with them during their encampment last year.

Other groups said they will work with the veterans to make the parade grow each year.

"We want the exclusion dropped," said Cole Harrison, a member of MassPeace Action, a Cambridge-based human rights group. "And our parade will be bigger and better every year until then. Even bigger than the one run by those bigots."

How it started

After a battle that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Allied War Veterans Council, the private group that puts on the celebration through South Boston, won the right to exclude groups from its parade -- including gay rights groups.

Veterans For Peace applied to march in the traditional ceremony but said they were rejected.

The 1995 case Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Group of Boston, ruled parade organizers do have a legal right to decide who marches.


Throughout the holiday weekend, police responded to various incidents:

Four people between the ages of 18 and 23 were arrested early Saturday morning after police were called for reports of a loud party in Brighton.

When officers arrived, the partygoers ran inside and threw burnt cigarettes at them, according to police.

Police issued eight arrests and more than 200 citations, mostly for public drinking, during yesterday's parade.

A man in his 20s fell from the roof of a South?Boston building yesterday afternoon. His condition was not immediately available.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear

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