In Stockholm last summer, my husband and I joined a large, festive crowd surrounding a gay parade. There were no barriers and no visible police force although the parade was stretching for what looked like miles. Later, we finally noticed a police car watching from afar and, next to it, a couple of ambulances. That was all. Stockholm is a city of almost 2 million people, and many of them were gathered along the parade, quite a few holding a can of beer in their hands. Yet no police intervention, no barriers â€” just people having a good time.
Fast-forward to the last Mardi Gras weekend in San Luis Obispo. Saturday night offered the spectacle of a besieged city. Virtually nobody in the streets, checkpoints on Foothill and Marsh and probably elsewhere, police everywhere, an eerie smell of fascism permeating the air. I started wondering if they could arrest me for wearing beads.
Mardi Gras used to be a fun festival until the misguided actions of city officials combined with excessive measures ruined both the festival and the reputation of our city. For centuries cities all over the world have celebrated Mardi Gras without repression. Why canâ€™t San Luis Obispo do the same?
San Luis Obispo