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United Lowrider Coalition joins San Diego Pride Parade

San Diego Pride and ULC aim to increase visibility and awareness after city fees imposed on lowriders' cruising events.

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. — Pride is back in a very big way this year. San Diego Pride is joining forces with another group, the United Lowrider Coalition by offering the lowriders a free parade contingent.

San Diego Pride says the goal is to raise visibility and awareness after National City imposed fees for gatherings on the marginalized, volunteer-led group.

Deanna Garcia, co-chair of the United Lowrider Coalition says they're doing everything in their power to combat stigma.

"We're out here just trying to show that we're hard-working people trying to support our community and we're just doing what we have to do," said Garcia.

They are joining forces with San Diego Pride with several cars from the United Lowrider Coalition as a part of the San Diego LGBTQ Latinx Coalition in the parade on July 16th.

Garcia says the two groups understand each other.

"It's two forces joining together because we have been defined in the same exact ways but with different words,” said Garcia. “We have been stereotyped. We have been treated a certain way all because they would rather label us instead of getting to know who we are. Lowriders are out there for the community. They are a part of the community.”

The move comes after the lowrider community says they suffered a blow when National City imposed a nearly $8,000 fee to host each lowrider cruising event.

Garcia says, they were heartbroken over the fees and are working to get the ordinance repealed.

On Wednesday, they’re happy to be able to ride with another group who knows what it's like to face discrimination.

"We love to talk to the kids. We love when people come up to us and ask us questions because that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to build a bridge with the community to show them that we aren't the gang members, and we aren't the drug dealers, and we aren't out there to disrupt anybody's lifestyle,” said Garcia. “Just to make the community a better place to be. Come and talk to us. Come and understand where we're coming from because we are genuine hearted people who only want to make the world better."

San Diego Pride sent CBS 8 a statement about the lowriders participation in the Pride parade set for July 16th.

Their statement emphasizes the two marginalized communities shared struggle against oppression.

“The United Lowrider Coalition (ULC) will have a contingent in the 2022 San Diego Pride Parade taking place on Saturday, July 16, 2022, starting at 10 a.m. The contingent will be part of the San Diego LGBTQ Latinx Coalition and will feature four to six customized cars and the United Lowrider Coalition Youth Bike Club.”

Out of understanding of the deep cultural significance of the lowrider community, National City initially agreed that cruises would be free of charge this past March, but instead will move forward charging upwards of $20,000 in city fees for each future cruising event.

The drastic increase in fees towards this historically underrepresented group caused the ULC to announce on May 27 that they would be forced to cancel the cruises moving forward.

When San Diego Pride’s Executive Director, Fernando Z. Lopez, one of the founders of the San Diego County LGBTQ Latinx Coalition, heard that the United Lowrider Coalition would need to shutter these community events, they quickly offered support.

“Inflation and rising city fees are social justice issues that disproportionately impact minority and marginalized communities. Nonprofit and volunteer-led community organizations and events generate a sizable economic impact in particular for the communities they serve,” said Lopez. “Right now, we are seeing a shift in municipal values and policy that simply do not impact major for-profit non-local corporations as they do for minority-owned local small businesses. As an organization facing the same issues, we knew we had to stand in solidarity with our lowrider community and offer support.”

The ULC accepted the offer to march in the parade.

Co-chair Jovita Arellano said the following statement:

“Our coalition was so surprised and honored to have San Diego Pride be so generous and share their space with us. Like the LGBTQ community, we in the lowrider community also have a history of being discriminated against, and we’re excited to march in solidarity at Pride and call for the repeal of tone-deaf laws that criminalize our cultures.”

In addition, National City’s Vice Mayor, Marcus Bush, the first openly bisexual elected official in San Diego County, will be in attendance alongside Councilmember Jose Rodriguez and other lowrider LGBTQ allies.

Cris Sotomayor, San Diego Pride's staff liaison for the LGBTQ Latinx Coalition said the following statement:

“Lowriders and cruising are part of the culture and identity of Latinx and Black communities here in San Diego, as well as throughout Southern California. These exorbitant charges hint at a narrative we are all too familiar with, Black and Brown joy are inherently criminal, and the government must task itself with policing, controlling, and diminishing that joy until they leave us bereft of even the simplest cultural hallmarks. The low rider community, like the LGBTQ+ community, has a long history of being forced to fight against legislation specifically constructed to destroy it. We will continue to advocate for our right to exist in peace and will stand with all oppressed peoples as they fight their own battles. We stand in solidarity with the United Lowrider Coalition in National City and urge local governments to honor-not criminalize- our artforms and culture.”

WATCH RELATED: United Lowrider Coalition cancels 'Cruise Nights' for rest of the year (May 2022)

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